Apple allergy is a common form of oral allergy syndrome
(OAS). If you experience tingling, itching or swelling of the lips, tongue and
throat after eating raw apples (and you have pollen allergies) you may have OAS.
The proteins found in raw apples are similar to those found in birch pollen and
mugwort pollen (a type of weed). Between 50 and 80 percent of people with birch
pollen allergies react to raw apples.
The proteins in apples break down when cooked, so you may be able to tolerate
applesauce or baked apples but not raw apples.
OAS symptoms tend to be worse during pollen season, when your body is already
coping with reactions to the pollen. Some people are able to eat raw apples at
other times of year, but not when the pollen count is high.
Symptoms of OAS are usually confined to a local reaction of the mouth or lips.
Occasionally, some people have more severe reactions that may include rashes,
delayed gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal cramps and diarrhea, or,
very rarely, anaphylaxis.
If more severe symptoms develop, such as wheezing or difficulty breathing, seek
emergency medical care. Know the symptoms of anaphylaxis and be prepared to
Localized symptoms like itching or swelling of the mouth or lips can be treated
with an over-the-counter antihistamine such as Benadryl. After taking an
antihistamine, a person with OAS should be monitored for the next few hours to
make sure that more serious allergic symptoms do not develop.
Immunotherapy for birch pollen may help some people with sensitivities to
apples. If you think you have an allergy to apples, talk to your doctor or
allergist. The type and severity of your symptoms may determine if you are
eligible for immunotherapy, or if you need a prescription for an epinephrine
auto-injector (commonly referred to by the brand name EpiPen.)
Because there is no cure for food allergies, you will need to manage your apple
allergy by avoiding raw apples and being prepared for future reactions.
People with birch pollen allergies may also react to: hazelnuts, nectarines,
peaches, kiwi fruit, carrots, apricots, cherries, pears, plums, celery and
soybeans. People with mugwort allergies may also react to celery, carrots,
melons, hazelnuts and chestnuts.
If you do not have allergic reactions to the other foods just mentioned, you
don't need to avoid them right now. However, you may be more likely to develop
an allergy to those foods in the future.
Apple Cider and Vinegar
Some people are sensitive to apple cider or apple cider vinegar but not to raw
apples. Both products are produced through a fermentation process. A sensitivity
to apple cider, vinegar or alcoholic (hard) cider may be due to an allergy to
Consumption of large amounts of apple cider vinegar may cause damage to the
stomach or esophagus even in people with no allergies, causing abdominal pain.
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