Tag Archives: Pollen Allergy

Ask the Doctor: What is Oral Allergy Syndrome?

Do fresh fruits and vegetables make your mouth, lips and tongue tingle and itch? Dr. Reynold M. Karr answers important questions about Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS), a Class 2 food allergy that may affect individuals with pollen allergies.

What is Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) and who does it affect?

Oral Allergy Syndrome mostly affects people with seasonal pollen allergy, typically allergic rhinitis, which is the medical term for hay fever.

What are the symptoms of OAS?

Common symptoms of OAS are itching of the mouth and throat beginning almost immediately after the food enters the mouth. It may last a few minutes but rapidly resolves once the food is swallowed.

Can an Oral Allergy Reaction result in anaphylaxis?

While this is certainly possible, systemic or generalized reactions occur in less than 5-10% of people with this disorder, and a large portion of these reactions are not anaphylaxis.

Which foods cause OAS? Which pollen allergies are linked to which foods causing OAS?

OAS is most often caused by uncooked (raw) fruits, vegetables, nuts, and spices. Cooking the foods breaks down the allergens in the food and usually eliminates the OAS reaction. Common pollen-food associations include: Birch tree pollen with pitted fruits; grass with watermelon, orange, and tomato; ragweed with melons and banana; and mugwort (weed) with a variety of vegetables and spices. A detailed chart is available at the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology (AAAAI) website.

As an adult with hay fever, is there a possibility I will develop Oral Allergy Syndrome?

Yes, but it is less likely the older you are. For reasons that are not completely understood, the condition appears to affect only a minority of hay fever sufferers, although it may be under-reported since mild reactions cause minimal annoyance and are often ignored.

Reynold M. Karr, M.D., is a board certified physician at UW Medical Center’s Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Clinic. He is also the medical director of PlasmaLab International in Everett.

Do you experience Oral Allergy Syndrome? You may qualify to donate plasma for allergy research.

Compensation is $185 per completed plasma donation.


Sublingual Allergy Tablets Are an Effective Treatment for Allergies

Individuals with allergies to grass, ragweed and/or dust mites may benefit from sublingual allergy tablets available by prescription from an allergist.

Sublingual allergy tablets have been used in Europe for several years. In recent years they were made available in the United States. For some patients, sublingual allergy tablets are an effective alternative to allergy shots.

According to Dr. Reynold Karr, an allergy and immunology specialist at the University of Washington Medical Center, the treatment involves placing an allergen tablet, such as one consisting of purified grass pollen, under the tongue each day at home.

“The tablet dissolves in seconds and the risk of a severe allergic reaction is very small,” Dr. Karr said.

When to Begin Sublingual Allergy Tablet Treatment

For grass and ragweed allergies, treatment is seasonal and should be started 12 weeks before your particular pollen season begins. Timing is critical, so it’s important to see your allergist at least four months before your allergy season begins. Allergy testing to confirm your sensitivities may be performed. Your doctor will direct you on when to begin taking your treatment based on your community’s pollen count history.

Sublingual treatment for dust mites is year-round.

Successfully Using Sublingual Allergy Tablets

When using sublingual immunotherapy for allergies, it’s important to place the tablet underneath your tongue and allow it to dissolve completely. Why? If you simply swallow the pill, the purified pollen will be destroyed by the digestion process. In placing the tablet underneath your tongue, the immunotherapy is distributed directly into your sublingual vein located in the floor of your mouth.

There are pros and cons to using sublingual immunotherapy to treat allergies. Side effects among children and adults are usually local and mild. Your allergist will guide you in your treatment plan.


Do you experience grass allergies (also known as hay fever)? Learn how you can donate your antibody-rich plasma to support allergy diagnostics and research. 

Ready to schedule your screening appointment and IgE allergy test to see if you qualify for our Allergy Antibody Plasma Donation Program in Everett WA?



RaeJean Hasenoehrl, Writing and Marketing Specialist

I am the Outreach Coordinator at PlasmaLab International in Everett. I am also a freelance writer and novelist, wife and mom and grandma, gardener and hay fever hater. Genetically speaking, mom and dad passed their allergies on to me, and I passed them on to my children. I’m sure our grandkids will be riddled with allergies, too. (Sorry, kiddos.)  Our family should own stock in the Kleenex company. Just sayin’.