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Allergies

Allergy to carrots

07/13/2006

Question:

I have in the last 8 years developed an allergy to raw carrots,symptoms include, swelling,urticaria, itching,changes in my voice which I assume are due to swelling of the larynx,and pain on swallowing and lastly sneezing.However, I am absolutely fine with cooked carrots. Initially I started having an itchy mouth whenever I ate raw carrots but the problem has escalated. I occasionally get this tingling in my mouth when I eat raw mange-tout. Are these related allergies, do you think the second possible reaction could escalate to become more of a problem?

I carry an epipen now just in case as i have had an accidental exposure at least twice now.

I am very aware of this escalating problem as, unfortunately, we do have an atopic family with my daughter having severe problems with peanuts and not quite as severe problems with milk and eggs. She suffers from excema and asthma etc.etc.etc.My nephew has a peanut allergy, and all of my husbands nephews and nieces have atopic conditions.

Answer:

Are you allergic to tree pollen? If so this sounds like the "Oral itch syndrome" which occurs because carrots contain prophilins which are the major allergenic proteins in certain tree pollens.  Other vegetables and fruits that can cause this reaction include celery and apples.  You are experiencing a cross reactivity to these proteins in carrots because you are sensitized to similar proteins found in tree pollen.  Cooking the carrots, denatures the protein.  The risk for a more severe anaphylactic reaction to raw carrots is not increased.  The best treatment is don't eat raw carrots.  You could try to take an antihistamine on a regular basis to less the reaction.  For your information, I also experience this reaction as do 20-30% of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis.

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Response by:

Jonathan   Bernstein, MD Jonathan Bernstein, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati