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Q: Can environmental allergies cause problems in my mouth?

Posted September 18, 2013 in Advice Column, Winterset

A: Yes. As many as one third of patients who suffer from seasonal allergies may also develop oral allergy syndrome. This occurs when the body confuses proteins found in certain foods with similar proteins found in pollen. The food proteins can then cause a localized reaction in the mouth resulting in a swollen tongue, swollen lips, or an itchy mouth.

People who are allergic to tree pollen, ragweed pollen and grass may have symptoms when eating apples, celery, kiwis, carrots, hazelnuts, peanuts, peaches, pears, potatoes, melons, bananas or tomatoes. Patients who have reactions will often have no symptoms when the food is cooked; however, you should avoid foods which you previously had a reaction to.

Even though oral allergy syndrome is unlikely to be life-threatening, it is difficult to distinguish oral allergy syndrome from a typical food allergy. A food allergy can be life-threatening and patients should seek medical attention immediately when experiencing severe swelling, hives, throat constriction, vomiting, dizziness or shortness of breath.

If you are experiencing symptoms, it is a good idea to speak with your allergist and dentist. An expert should diagnose oral allergy syndrome and perform any needed testing to ensure that a food allergy is not mischaracterized as oral allergy syndrome.

Information provided by Dr. Christopher W. Blanchard, Blanchard Family Dentistry, 820 West Summit St., 462-4474

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