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Itchy Mouth and Tight Throat

Re: Itchy Mouth and Tight Throat

Dear Dr Kagen,

My son is having a lot of trouble lately with an itchy mouth. His gums get itchy so he grinds his teeth. When things get really bad, he clicks his tongue to scratch the roof of his mouth. Sometimes with a food he will say it makes him tight. I asked what that meant and he said it feels as though his throat tightens. It has never gotten to the point of interfering with his breathing.

I have read the patient histories on this site and identify with them a lot. They explain a lot of his problem as he is extremely allergic to milk, eggs, peanuts, cashews, peas, beans, almonds, ragweed, grass and tree pollen, danders, mold, and dust. These were evident as well as proven with scratch testing. He gets an itchy mouth and sometimes tight throat with apples, peaches, apricots, grapes, strawberries, bananas, cherries, sesame seed, sunflower, cocoa, carob, palm kernel oil, coconut and other things that I'm not sure what caused the problem.

My main question is how important is it to avoid all of these foods that affect him only with the itchy mouth and or tight throat? Lately it seems as though we would be ruling out practically everything that he eats. Will this improve at all? He had a ragweed kit this year for the first time- a series of 4 shots that are supposed to get him through the ragweed season. It seems as though the mouth symptoms have been worse since the shots but perhaps that is only coincidence. Any comment? He is also asthmatic and on daily medication for that as well as a nasal steroid.

Any help that you can offer would be most appreciated.

Shirley S.

Dear Shirley,

Thanks for asking about your son's allergy and asthma symptoms. As you are aware, I am unable to provide medical advice over the Internet, although I am able to suggest some talking points for you to discuss with your son's physician.

No one really knows what the long term or even short term effects are from eating things that make your mouth itchy. Common sense tells you that if it hurts, then you should avoid it. Be nice to yourself. Do not do anything to hurt yourself.

Also, I believe that eating things which aggravate allergy symptoms may make the underlying allergic disease more severe, and may flare up some ones asthma as well.

I am not aware of any therapy which may be referred to as a "ragweed kit" or small series of shots that improves allergies, unless it is a sequence of steroid injections. If so, I am dead set against this practice unless the asthma symptoms are extremely uncontrolled.

The fact that your son is still having symptoms of allergy suggests that he is being under-medicated [i.e. antihistamines may minimize itching of the mouth.

Allergen immunotherapy treatments, or allergy shots, are the only treatment that can actually reverse the underlying immune imbalance which is present in allergy sufferers.

Be certain that your son is being cared for by an Allergy Specialist who is trained in the newest options available for both allergy and asthma.

I hope this info is useful to you and your family. Be certain to discuss it with your son's doctor.

Good luck.

Steve Kagen, M.D.