What is Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome?

2 min read



Have you ever experienced a numb, swollen, or itchy mouth after eating fruits or vegetables?

If so, you may have Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome.

Also known as Oral Allergy Syndrome, Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome (PFAS) is a reaction caused by certain foods that have proteins similar in structure to pollens you’re allergic to. This doesn’t mean that you’re allergic to the foods themselves. Instead, your immune system thinks the proteins in that specific fruit or vegetable are similar to the proteins in the pollen you’re allergic to, triggering an allergic reaction (also called a cross-reactivity).

For example, if you’re sensitive to ragweed, you may have a reaction when eating banana, cucumber, zucchini, or watermelon. Birch allergens cross-react with apples, pears, carrots, potatoes, cumin, almonds, peanuts, and more. If you’re allergic to certain grass, you may have a reaction to melon, orange, tomato, Swiss chard, or peanuts.

PFAS symptoms include tingling and itching of the mouth, tongue and/or throat. Rarely, symptoms can cause lip or tongue swelling or abdominal discomfort. Typically these symptoms last for no more than half an hour, and symptoms usually occur when the food is raw.

Avoiding these foods in their raw forms will be the best way to manage this. If a food cannot be eaten in cooked form, e.g., melons, you might choose to avoid eating it entirely.

If you have a noticeable cross-reaction to fruits, vegetables, or tree nuts, it may not be a food allergy — it may be PFAS. Luckily, PFAS symptoms are less severe than food allergies and may improve with allergy immunotherapy.

Visit to order an at-home allergy test and learn more about our allergy treatment options.

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They say knowledge is power. We couldn’t agree more. Learn about the chronic health condition that affects 50 million Americans every year.