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Seeds of Control
If the problem is genuinely OAS, “the key is to manage the hay fever,” Keith says. He suggests using an intranasal steroid two weeks before the season and throughout, to stave off a seasonal rise in the allergic IgE antibodies.
“We want to turn off your nose’s production of IgE locally to the pollen, so when you eat a protein that is very similar, you won’t get the symptoms,” he says. Immunotherapy or allergy shots has not proved particularly helpful for this syndrome, though it can be effective for the hay fever itself.
Some natural therapies may provide some relief. Keith finds that nasal rinsing with a saline spray can be effective in reducing inflammation, while wearing glasses lessens pollen exposure in eyes. He also recommends keeping windows closed, especially in the bedroom and the car, during the specific allergy season.
Given that millions of North Americans suffer from hay fever, the experts actually find it surprising that so few people experience OAS. “A major question is not why people get this problem, but why more people don’t – since the pollen-protein link is always there,” says Mazer. It tends to be those who have more severe hay fever who get OAS.
“If you get OAS symptoms, see your doctor,” says Keith. “What you’re experiencing is really a side effect of your hay fever not being controlled.” So it’s off to the specialist for me to make sense of my hay fever symptoms. There may be a chance yet for my love affair with peaches. One can only hope.
First published in Allergic Living magazine.
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