If at times your throat or the back of your mouth itches or tickles, or if your voice turns hoarse, these may be signs of an allergy. Itch and swelling of the mouth and throat mostly affect those allergic to pollen and certain foods. People suffering from pollen allergy or other allergies of the respiratory tract may also be affected by hoarseness. This is caused by irritated mucous membranes of the vocal cord. The correlation between hoarseness and allergies of the respiratory tract has not been fully proven, but more recent research suggests that untreated pollen allergy may lead to chronic voice changes.
Hay fever is mostly associated with a runny nose, nasal congestion and eye itch, but those suffering from a severe allergy may also experience itchy and tickly throat and mouth when there is a lot of pollen around. These symptoms sometimes also appear at other times than during the pollen season when, for example, a person allergic to pollen is eating certain foods. This happens because of the allergen in pollen is being similar to that of some foods, which thereby may trigger similar allergic reactions. This is called oral allergy syndrome. Most often it is raw fruits and vegetables that are objects of hypersensitivity, since the allergen is destroyed as the food is being cooked. This is, however, not the case when it comes to nuts and celery.
May lead to hypersensitivity to:
Celery, bell pepper, parsley, fennel, banana, melon and carrot
Apples, pears, nuts, carrots, celery, stone fruits, strawberries
Strawberries, soy beans, peas, wheat, tomatoes and onion.
Besides an itchy throat and mouth, these cross-reactions can lead to swelling of the lips. This may be unpleasant but is, in most cases, harmless and it usually does not take long for the reaction to pass.
Food allergy is uncommon - only a small percentage of the population is estimated to be allergic to certain foods. But many are intolerant to certain foods and the symptoms are often mistaken for an allergy. The difference is that a food allergy can be life threatening while food intolerance, in comparison, usually is quite harmless. The most common allergens are milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashew nuts, pistachio and almonds. Up to 90% of all people allergic to foods are hypersensitive to one of these. Apart from an itchy or tickly throat and mouth, food allergy may lead to skin problems, stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, eczema and nettle rash.
Children are affected by food allergies to a larger degree than adults. Allergies to eggs, milk, peanuts and fish often appear in early childhood. Sometimes small children also have temporary non-allergic reactions to different fruits, with symptoms like rash and flushing around the mouth. Fortunately, many food allergies disappear before the child is old enough to go to school. Allergies to nuts and peanuts are, however, usually life-long.
Some food allergies, especially those to peanuts and other nuts, may cause severe and even life threatening reactions. This is called anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock. Early symptoms of an anaphylactic shock are, for example, nettle rash, itch, nausea, nasal congestion, runny nose, tickly throat, hoarseness and mild asthma. Severe allergy shocks may also cause breathing difficulties, severe asthma and blood pressure drops. If you suspect that your child is suffering from a food allergy it is therefore important that he or she is properly examined by a doctor. Food allergy cannot be cured, but is controlled by avoiding the food you are allergic to. If you have eaten something you are not tolerating, you may need a doctor to prescribe some medicines. If you are at risk of having an anaphylactic shock it is important to always carry an auto-adrenaline injector with you, since this life threatening condition requires immediate treatment.
UK/GEN/15/0057d Date of preparation: December 2015