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Birch Pollenosis


My mother has been recently diagnosed as suffering from birch pollenosis. This seemed to have stemmed from a food allergy attacked a few weeks ago. Now according to the allergist she saw, her immune system is believing that just about everything (food and otherwise) is birch pollen and reacting accordingly. I was wondering what you knew of this condition. She has been told that her body will desensitize itself over time and the condition will disappear.

Is there anything you can tell me about this condition?

Thanks for asking about birch allergy and related food allergy problems.

The birch pollen allergens which cause spring time hay fever symptoms are also present in certain foods. This means that a patient who has birch sensitivity may experience allergy symptoms when eating what I refer to as the "cousins of birch". The birch look a like foods include apples, peaches, pears, celery, carrots, pitted cherries and other stony or pitted fruits.

Not everyone who is allergic to birch allergens has food allergy symptoms however when they eat these foods. It is nice though to be aware of these relationships so that the victim may play a role in discovering why he or she is sick all the time.

Food allergy symptoms commonly occurring in the birch sensitive patients include itching on the roof of the mouth, swelling of the tongue, wheezing, coughing, stomach aches, a "busy stomach" and/or possibly life threatening anaphylaxis.

It is unusual for a patient to become desensitized without going through allergen immunotherapy, or allergy injections. It is common for the birch sensitive patient to experience an improvement in their food allergy symptoms which are birch related after receiving allergy injections.

I hope this information is helpful to you and your family. Allergy is usually a "family disease" which occurs in multiple members of the family since the ability to become allergic to things is genetically determined.

Steve Kagen, M.D.