Pollen allergies can trigger reactions based on what you eat

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If you’re sneezing and sniffling this time of year, you are not alone.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports more than 50 million Americans have experienced various types of allergies each year. In fact, the foundation lists allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness.

Adena Health System allergist Dr. Dana Esham makes varying recommendations for her patients including immunotherapy to train their immune system not to overreact.

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“If you do allergy shots, you reduce your likelihood of becoming allergic to more things by 70 percent," she said.

Dr. Esham also has a reminder about pollen problems. She said they extend to what you eat in what is called pollen-food allergy syndrome. The syndrome is caused by cross-reacting allergens found in pollen and raw fruits, vegetables and some tree nuts.

"If you're allergic to birch tree, some people when they eat apples they have mouth tingling,“ Dr. Esham said. These same people will think they have an allergy to apples, “but it's actually the birch pollens — your body thinks it's eating the birch tree.”

It’s not just apples, the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology says allergies to birch pollen can trigger reactions to almonds, carrots, celery, cherries, grass pollen celery, melons, oranges, peaches and tomatoes.

Ragweed can trigger allergic reactions to eating banana, cucumber, melons, sunflower seeds and zucchini.

Avoiding the food in raw forms is the most common way to manage oral allergy syndrome.

For some people, if there is significant throat discomfort or difficulty swallowing, it may require the allergist to prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector.