Pollen-Food Syndrome

Pollen-Food Syndrome

Pollen-Food Syndrome Facts

  • Pollen-Food Syndrome (PFS) is an allergic reaction in the mouth and throat to certain raw foods. Oral Allergy Syndrome is another name for PFS.
  • Most people with PFS also have symptoms of hayfever or pollen allergy. These include seasonal watery itchy eyes, a runny or stuffed-up nose, and sneezing.
  • In PFS your body confuses proteins in some foods with similar proteins it reacts to in hayfever or pollen allergy.
  • Symptoms of PFS include itching, burning, or tingling of the lips, mouth, or throat. Sometimes there is a small amount of swelling or hives (a raised itchy rash on the skin) in the area.
  • Symptoms usuallly go away in fewer than 15 minutes after the food is swallowed or taken out of the mouth.

Management

  • Avoid eating foods you react to in raw or dried forms. Cook foods so you can eat them.
  • Cooking or digesting most foods changes the proteins. Your body will no longer react to it.
  • Keep eating foods prepared in ways you do not react to.
  • The proteins in some foods do not change enough to prevent symptoms even after cooking.
    • Always avoid nuts you have reacted to in both cooked and raw forms.
    • Celery can cause reactions in some people even after being cooked.
  • Some people can eat canned, frozen, and sometimes juiced versions of the food.
  • The skin on fruit contains most of the proteins people react to. Peeling thick-skinned fruit like apples or peaches might prevent a reaction.
  • If you have eczema, your skin may get worse when you eat cooked foods that you react to when raw.
  • Skin prick testing done by an allergist can help tell which pollens and foods affect you.

Anaphylaxis

  • People with Pollen-Food Syndrome may have anaphylaxis, though this is rare.
  • Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that affects the whole body. Pollen-food syndrome affects only the parts of the body that touch a food.
  • People who react to peanut, tree nuts, peaches, or mustard are at an increased risk of anaphylaxis.
  • You may need to carry an epinephrine auto-injector like an EpiPen to treat anaphylaxis.
  • Speak with your health care professional about when and how to use your auto-injector.

If you have an anaphylactic reaction:

  • Use your epinephrine auto-injector.