Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pollen Cross Reactivity

(AKA Oral Allergy Syndrome)

For as long as I can remember, certain foods have tasted "tingly". I suppose in retrospect I can identify the sensation as tingly, or even itchy, but at the time I would have just said it was just the unique flavor of certain foods, for example: oranges, apples, peaches, nectarines, tomatoes, celery, cherries and especially pineapple & kiwi. Those last two I can't even get past my lips without intense itching. Though I have not been tested, I assume I have some environmental (read: pollen) allergies. Poor Dave. How often do I turn to him and say, for example, "What? You mean you DON'T get numb lips when you eat granny smith apples?" The assumptions I've made about my own life experiences being universal are constantly revealed to me. This is both amusing and humbling.

The reason I starting thinking about this again, is because I went for a run tonight. I haven't gone running on my own in quite awhile, so I was actually able to experience a real workout, without distraction or interruption. It was fabulous. I feel great and had a nice, intense run without overdoing it. However, about 15 minutes after I got home, I started wheezing. And I remembered the phenomenon of "allergy induced asthma", which I have experienced in the past. I did some online research, as I am wont to do, and I stumbled upon the connection between apparently exercise induced asthma and pollen-induced asthma.

If you are allergic to a pollen, you can have a cross-reaction to foods in that family.

If you are allergic to ragweed, you can have problems with any or all of the following: raw bananas, the gourd family (melons, squashes), chamomile, sunflower & echinacea.

If you are allergic to grasses, you can have problems with any or all of the following: oranges, melons, tomatoes, kiwi & peanuts.

If you are allergic to various tress, you can have problems with any or all of the following: apple family (apples, pears), plum family (plum, peach, nectarine, apricot, cherry), kiwi, parsley family (carrot, celery, dill, anise, cumin, coriander, caraway), potato family (potato, pepper, tomato), tree nuts, peas, peanuts, beans & sunflowers.

If you are allergic to latex, you can have problems with and or all of the following: banana, avocado, kiwi, chestnut, and per some sources, papaya, fig, potatoes & tomatoes.

Additionally, honey and honey products often cause issues depending on the pollen the bees were collecting.

It is often reported that if you experience OAS symptoms, it will usually be when the food is raw (with the exclusion of nuts, which are reactive in all states), and gets worse as they ripen. Many people are able to tolerate these foods cooked, despite major symptoms raw. Like salicylates, the allergic compounds are usually concentrated in the peel and the underlying tissue.

We've been feeding Lily a pretty steady diet of apples & squash on this elimination diet. We haven't really hit baseline with the skin, though this experiment has been useful in helping us figure out vitamin & supplement dosages and has revealed a hive-reaction to shea butter. So, I wonder if we were to swap out a different fruit for apples -- I think our options are berries & coconut -- and drop the squash to focus on the veggies we're already eating -- kale, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and perhaps lettuce -- maybe we'll see that last bit of improvement that we've been waiting for.

I'm not claiming to have all the answers. I'm not totally sold on every new theory I run across or discuss here. But I am open-minded and willing to shuffle things around and find what seems to make sense for us. Looking forward to seeing what the next week brings.

Tomorrow I will call our allergist and see if we (Lily and I) can both be scratch-tested for pollens and go from there.

1 comment:

  1. This is my first visit to your blog, so my apologies if you already know most of this. Something my family is experiencing may be related and helpful info.... delayed food reactions. Early on, a few years ago, I had the hardest time nailing down what my kids were allergic to - working through an elimination diet with my twin girls. We ended up doing skin testing; it's no wonder I couldn't figure it out... they had allergies to all but a couple of the foods and airbornes tested!

    We now administered antigen drops to desensitize, following a rotation diet that is gluten and corn free. So, when we started having new symptoms recently .... I was quite dismayed (as we'd had recent/current skin testing). After researching and talking to alternative medical care professionals, come to find out (and this is old news to some) that there are allergens IgG and IgA that when present, have delayed reactions that can affect any number of things within the body. One of my kids is having symptoms of oppositional behavior, and the other is having fibromyalgia symptoms - so we've got brain symptoms and musculoskeletal symptoms... go figure.

    The challenge with delayed reaction allergies ... it's very difficult to pin down the allergen(s), as the time from ingesting it/them to the time of reaction could have been from one to seven days ago. Plus they aren't the "classic" allergy symptoms of immediate reaction allergies. Needless to say, I'm going to have my kids' blood tested to discover what we need to remove from the diet.
    If removing milk products and sugar produce positive results, we may wait.

    That's the other thing - these IgG mediated allergens are handled differently - the food culprit(s) are to be totally removed from the diet for 3 months, and then they can be slowly reintroduced, as long as tolerated. There's plenty of info online about this, so I encourage you to explore further. I've barely touched the surface, and only to the best of my understanding.

    Good Luck :-)


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