Itchy Eggplant

I've been in denial about this for the past couple months, but it's time to admit it to myself: I think I have an eggplant allergy.

This is horrible!

First of all, I've spent the last 37 years blithely leaving the allergy section of medical forms blank (though I am often compelled to write "N/A" so they know I didn't skip a question – I take tests very seriously).

Second, I love eggplant.

Third, and worst of all, what if this is a general nightshade issue? And what if it means that I'll also react to peppers, leaving me unable to pull my weight in finishing off the rest of our summer harvest (above)? And what if it means that I'll eventually react to (gasp!) tomatoes?

Time to hit the internet for some information on my symptoms. These symptoms consist of an itchy feeling on the roof of my mouth and soft palette when I eat eggplant. This never happened to me before this season, and it only started in about October or so. At first I wasn't even sure what it was, but eventually figured out that it happened every time I ate eggplant. It's pretty mild – no more than an annoyance, really – but I wanted to know more.

It turns out I'm not the only one who has this problem. That's nice, I guess. I did some reading on food allergies, and then I found some information about oral allergy syndrome. It turns out that oral allergy syndrome isn't exactly a food allergy, but a situation in which people with a pollen allergy (that's you, ragweed) get "confused" by a food. Their mouths think that they are trying to eat pollen and send in the troops. Lots of raw fruits and veggies can trigger it, and eggplant is one of them. It is also completely normal for it to develop in adults.

It would seem that my ragweed allergy has suddenly triggered an oral reaction to eggplant. I read that a bad ragweed season would make an eggplant reaction more likely (and this was a pretty terrible allergy year for pretty much everyone). And it also makes sense that I got through part of the summer ok, but that my symptoms picked up as autumn went on (and ragweed gets worse).

The good news here is that it doesn't look like a generalized nightshade allergy, or even a food allergy. The bad news is all the online doomsday advice to stop eating eggplant until I see an allergist and go through a battery of tests to avoid death by anaphylactic shock.


I was happy to read that OAS "seldom" leads to death and/or epipens. So I think I'll keep eating eggplant and roll with the mild annoyance of itchy mouth, and bank on the fact that it won't get any worse.

I hope.


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