Patients with oral health symptoms may have food allergies, causing lips to itch and the lining of the mouth to swell. According to the University of Maryland (UM) Medical Center, some get only these allergy symptoms from eating certain uncooked fruits or vegetables. More commonly, respiratory and digestive problems arise, too. In rare cases, however, allergic reactions that cause itchy lips can lead to anaphylaxis, a full-body medical condition that can result in coma and death.
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As the UM Medical Centeexplains, oral allergy syndrome presents symptoms limited to the mouth and throat area. These may occur only during certain pollen seasons. Common food allergies add nasal and gastrointestinal symptoms and cause allergy symptoms every time patients consume a problem food. Anaphylactic allergic reactions combine pulmonary and cardiovascular effects to produce serious health problems on rare occasions.
When the human body forms antibodies to food allergens, a defense mechanism kicks in as it detects the presence of these invaders in the bloodstream. The Mayo Clinic notes that cooking plant-based foods, such as potatoes, can deter the immune system from recognizing these food's allergenic protein structures. Patients may not be able to prevent allergic reactions to other foods, such as fish and tree nuts, however. Additionally, anaphylaxis can occur at any time in those with food allergies and cannot be predicted.
Patients usually develop signs of oral food allergies immediately, including a sensation of tingling or itching in the lips and perhaps the formation of raised bumps in the mouth. The eyes may begin to itch and the nose to run. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) note that digestive allergy symptoms come on as the allergens make their way through the body. Within about an hour, feelings of nausea and stomach cramping may be accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea.
Allergic reactions to food have no lasting effects, unless anaphylaxis complicates their conditions. During anaphylaxis, blood pressure drops and the airways become severely congested. Patients may feel light-headed and weak and have trouble breathing. The NIH reports that patients may then lose consciousness and lung and heart functions.
To prevent organ damage and death, patients should summon paramedic help at the first sign of abnormal pulse or trouble breathing. The UM Medical Center relates that the only way to prevent anaphylaxis and other allergy symptoms is to identify and avoid the problem food. Patients can aid their physicians in diagnoses by noting which foods cause their lips to itch, along with any other health symptoms.