7 Foods That Can Make Your Allergies Much Worse

by Jennifer Maas

Seasonal allergies, the affliction that takes nearly 18 million American adults down with only tree, grass, or weed pollens in its arsenal, reared its ugly head back in March and hasn't let up since. And for those sufferers who aren't accustomed to dealing with a constant allergy, like those to foods like peanut butter or strawberries, all year long, it can be a confusing time filled with trips to the pharmacy to try out every over-the-counter "wonder" drug and stock up on boxes of tissues.

But what most of us who only deal with allergies once a year don't know is that even if what your allergic to is floating around in the air, food plays a role in your nasal allergies too.

Yes, unfortunately the immune system recognizes the pollen and similar proteins in certain foods and directs an allergic response to it. It's called oral allergy syndrome, and it sucks.

"The body can't tell the difference, so the body goes on alert and starts to attack. releasing histamine and other things that cause the itchiness of the throat and worsening of allergy symptoms," said Dr. Cliff Bassett of Allergy & Asthma Care of New York.

The onset of oral allergy syndrome is more common in older children, teens, and young adults, so unfortunately, you could have been consuming the same fruits or vegetables in question for years without any problems.

Those with oral allergy syndrome typically have allergies to birch, ragweed, or grass pollens. And though not everyone who suffers from hay fever experiences similar symptoms when ingesting these foods, if you've ever noticed a correlation between a particularly sneezy, teary-eyed day and eating the following foods, you should be tested to see if you really have a negative reaction to that food. And in that case it would be a good idea to lay off them it until the pollen count goes down.

1. Celery

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That's right, celery, the most unassuming of all foods ever, can aggravate a birch pollen allergy. You may think this low-cal snack never hurt anyone. But munching on a stalk can turn you into a sneezing mess if it is a food that triggers your seasonal allergies. Same goes for carrots. Might as well get rid of your ranch dressing now.

2. Hazelnut-Flavored Coffee

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If you start to feel a tickle in your throat as you read this while sipping your hazelnut latte, check yourself to make sure its not psychosomatic first. But if you've noticed a reoccurring sensitivity to hazelnuts in general during allergy season, even hazelnut flavoring can make your allergies worse. My apologies to your barista in advance.

3. Peaches

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Few foods encompass the spirit of warm, sunny weather as completely as a peach — unless you have a grass pollen allergy, in which case a peach on a picnic may not be such a a great idea. But here's some good news: peeling and cooking the foods that cause oral allergy syndrome can lessen their affects. So a peach pie would be a safer choice for your nose.

4. Spicy Foods

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The intense sinus cleanse that comes immediately after consuming spicy foods may not be worth the temporary relief on a clogged up day. Spicy foods, namely foods that can trigger heartburn or acid reflux—ingredients like wasabi, horseradish, and peppers—can also trigger sinus problems. The acid and partially digested foods that can come back up the throat can cause issues with the ears, nose and throat.

5. Melons

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What is summer without watermelon? Easier on people with ragweed and grass allergies that's what. If you are sensitive to these particular irritants, you should be tested to see if fruits including cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew aggravate your allergies even more. And if they do, at least you'll have an excuse for why you ate more dessert than fruit salad at the Fourth of July picnic.

6. Tomatoes

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It's so unfair that peak tomato season and peak allergy season overlap. Who wants to give up tomatoes when you can actually buy them local and in season? But if you have grass allergies it might be best for you to cross tomatoes off your shopping list when the pollen count is up, as they can make that particular allergy even worse. I know that's cruel, but it could help.

7. Alcohol

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And to round out the list of foods that can make seasonal allergies worse, one substance can aggravate them all: alcohol. For some people, drinking alcohol, especially beer or wine, can trigger nasal congestion. So maybe you pass on the beer and white wine this summer? If you can. At least try.

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