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bizarre cheese-mouth reaction

  • m

The weirdest thing happened the other day....I ate a bite of some appelenzer (spelling?) and my mouth almost instantly felt itchy and then after a few minutes it felt like it had many tiny cuts in it. I am not allergic to cheese, and I've eaten tons of different kinds of it in the past. My throat didn't close up nor did I have any other signs of anaphalactic shock. Significant other tasted it and said it was "weird" but he didn't have the same reaction. The feeling went away after I ate some plain crackers and rinsed my mouth out a lot.

Any ideas?! Has this ever happened to anyone else?

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  1. No ideas what causes it, but the same happens to me from time to time with certain cheese and almost always with fuji apples.

    7 Replies
    1. re: HLing

      Hmm, I remember I knew someone with a reaction to apples, but it was ok if she peeled the skins. No idea on the cheese thing.

      1. re: Chris VR
        Caitlin McGrath

        It's a not unusual allergic reaction to fruits. My co-hound gets that itchy-mouth reaction to raw apples (even peeled) and cherries, and to peach skins (okay if peeled).

        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          The strange reaction I get to some cheeses - seems common with more potent blues - is a "take your breath" away sensation. Not so severe that I can't breathe, but it does contribute a head rush and heart rate eleveation that makes eating these cheeses a more visceral experience.

          Do others have this sensation or is it just "itchy mouth"?


        2. re: Chris VR

          Other apples are usually OK, skin and all.

          When there IS a reaction to Parmaggiano Reggiano, it's similar but much more raspy than the reaction to fuji apples.

        3. re: HLing

          I don't mind adding to the discussion 7 years later because people like me will still search discussions on various topics such as this one.

          I get this reaction also. Certain cheeses, particularly aged, mature, or blue cheeses (but not always.) It happens with a lot of apples-- especially skin-on and eaten to the core. Ripe bananas. Anything other than VERY fresh eggplant. And more I can't remember. I still eat these foods despite the uncomfortable reaction. I know this is against Doctor recommendations but I think many of them are trying to avoid lawsuits. Me, I think of it as a sort of innoculization or desensitization process to keep exposing myself to these foods. Plus I'm a foodie-- what do you want me to do? :P Not eat cheese?!?

          I also have a wide variety of reactions to various nuts and seeds.
          Can't do walnuts, brazil nuts, pecans or peanuts at all, but eat most all others despite the reaction. Sunflower seeds are the worst of the tolerable.

          My boyfriend gets it only with certain cheeses and nothing else.

          Drinking fizzy drinks and gargling help the symptoms pass.

          1. re: globalgourmand

            I hear you. I self diagnosed myself with a birch allergy a few years ago after cnn had something on it (a link to one article is here http://allergies.ygoy.com/2009/06/11/... ).
            I'll still have an apple now and then but quickly followed by some benadryl and a nap.

            1. re: HunterJay

              Okay, that got my attention. One day I was given a piece of candy made with a sweetener derived from birch sap, and immediately experienced my first and only major histamine reaction. Luckily I was in the presence of our art director, a woman who's allergic to damn near everything and so always has a good antihistamine handy. "Willy, you're all red and swole up!" she cried, and handed me a couple of pills, which also had an almost immediate effect. The candy was from Sweden, I think, and was being test-marketed. I never saw or heard of it again, so I'm guessing mine was not an isolated case.

        4. i have this reaction to swiss and havarti. domestic or imported, doesn't matter. sometimes the same thing happens with tomatoes. and maybe a half dozen times it's happened with carrots. i have to avoid the swiss because the reaction progressed through my teen years ( i worked in a restaurant and would sneak into the walk in cooler to nibble on chunks of cheese, i paid karmically i guess) to a near instantaneous reaction that is pretty gross, but if you must know, my gums split and bleed if i don't drink 5 or 6 consecutive glasses of ice water. yuck. The tomato/carrot thing does not have the same severity and doesn't seem to get worse.
          now, the allergy people tell me that i am extremely allergic to mold and some proteins and that cheese allergies are probably from the mold being similar. i am admonished every week to leave all of the cheese out of my diet. since swiss causes me such obvious problems, and because i haven't had any in about 2 years, its the only one i can bear to leave out completely. someday....
          The tomato thing, they told me 'well, that's a nightshade, a lot of people have problems with those.'
          and for the carrots, they just sort of sighed. this institute isn't equipped to find everything in a carrot and then prick test every compound on my arm. and i couldn't afford it anyway.
          so, the short answer is, if you get your reaction from that cheese again, leave it off the plate, unless you want a cool gum bleeding party trick.
          best of luck,

          1. I had the same thing happen to me years ago at Patina Restaurant in Los Angeles area. During the cheese course, I asked for the sharpest, ripest cheese on the tray. It was a brown color with a powerful smell. It was a very small slice. I put a small amount in my mouth and it took over my mouth, dulled all the taste buds, took over the salivary glands, and basically scared the hell out of me. In about half a minute it all passed. Then I did it again. At that point it was like a restaurant thrill ride. Never happened with anything else, cheese or non cheese.

            1. b

              I got the itchy-mouth and swelling throat reaction once to a piece of poached chicken (no seasonings). I sat open-mouthed, afraid to chew any more. Luckily, the feeling passed in less than a minute.

                  1. re: globalgourmand

                    I forgot raw peas too. That one is real unpleasant.

                    1. re: globalgourmand

                      I recently had this with an avocado and my allergist said certain fruits will do it to many people, even if they aren't at all allergic. In that "family" are avocado, kiwi, banana, pineapple. I get the same reaction with all aforementioned fruits, but none of them make me "sick" and I'm not allergic.

                      I guess they have something or other in them that causes an unpleasant feeling in the mouth. Above poster stating she was allergic to mold and had aged cheese reactions seems to make sense though in regards to the OP. Never thought about it, but very interesting!

                1. Wow, so glad I'm not alone... It happens to me with pears, apples, avocados and, like the OP, cheese. Very rarely does it happen with the cheese itself, but almost always if I eat the rind of a soft cheese. Oh, happens occasionally with grapefruit as well.

                  Eggs and cucumber are the culprit for my boyfriend.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: loratliff

                    Weird! Avo, banana and eggs as well for my cousin! I really wonder what is behind this!? I've heard of a latex allergy being linked to avocado and banana. The mold theory makes sense for cheeses. I really have no idea about the apples and pears. And the egg one seems most bizarre! I really wish there were some conclusive studies on this since it seems to be fairly common.

                    1. re: globalgourmand

                      There is loads of research connecting latex allergies to a whole slew of fruits, veggies, and herbs.

                      As for the eggs, there is a small amount of research which finds certain enzymes in both egg whites and the rubber tree which latex is derived from. Furthermore, certain enzymes are shared between avocados and eggs, as well as certain protein strings. The research linking allergies together seems quite neglected, but maybe they're finally onto something here.

                  2. I'm another one with itchy mouth syndrome although it's lessened as I've got older and no longer have grass and pollen allergies. Plums, walnuts, cantaloupes, peaches, kiwis, apples and pears, blue cheeses can but not always. My mum and me noticed we both got swollen tongues recently after eating cooked spinach.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: smartie

                      I used to have a similar reaction with Picos de Europa (a blue cheese from Spain) that I would buy at this one store (which i always assumed just got in thier wheels really, really mature). I always simply assumed that, once the cheese got well enough aged, the enzymes in the cheese got concentrated enough that they began digesting ME, sort of like waht I've heard happens when you eat a lot of raw pineapple core.
                      I also get a second reaction with cheese sometimes, a short term sharp ache at the joint between my upper and lower jaw lasting maybe 30 seconds. This only happens when I eat "sharp" cheddar, and then only with commercial cheddar (for some reason farmhouse cheddar does not do it, no matter how aged it is, probably because farmhouse cheddar rarely gets as sharp as industrial can no matter how long it is aged.)

                      1. re: jumpingmonk

                        Interesting. I get that ache in my jaw as well. I never even thought to pay particular attention to what I was eating at the time. I just thought it had something to do with an issue with my joints. It is a little painful, but more annoying than anything else, as it interferes with my meal, and that much-anticipated *first* bite.

                        I've only had the needling sensation on my tongue twice, both time from a hard white cheese. The first time, I blamed the cheese, and threw it away, even though my boyfriend *swore* the cheese tasted fine (I argued that if my mouth was burning, it couldn't possibly be fine). The second time was sadder, as I had just made a mashed potato casserole with cream, mozzarella, buttered breadcrumbs, and parmesan, and had to give up on that guilty pleasure after one bite. He ate the potatoes without batting an eye.

                        I eat hard white cheese all the time without an issue, so I do suppose the aging process might be a factor. I've never thought to research either of these things, I just thought it was bad joints and bad cheese. Huh.

                      2. re: smartie

                        I just can't imagine going without Plums! Even though it has in fact been a while since I had my last one, there is no doubt about it that Plums are amongst my all time favorite fruits if not the favorite. I also like Bananas, Honey Dew, Pears, Cherries, (quality) Grapes & many of the other common favorites too though. Add Spinach to the list too, as I also like Spinach quite a bit.

                      3. Swiss gives me an itchy roof with some regularity, though not if the cheese is melted and not enough to stop me from indulging in Swiss every chance I get. Glad to hear after all these years that I'm not alone.

                        1. For me, it's eggplant, tomatoes, cantaloupe and swiss cheese. They numb and yet sting the roof of my mouth.

                          What is it??!!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: isofood

                            It's called OAS, oral allergy syndrome. It's usually a birch allergy but you should look it up and learn more about what to do to avoid reactions. I didnt start having OAS until my later 30's and now my daughter has it. A shame! I miss cherries!

                          2. Apparently - Propionic culture is what makes holes in Swiss gruyere emanthal cheese

                            I get anaphlaxis from Swiss cheese - throat closing. Never used to carry an epipen but inhaling a lot of incense from a vendor who was burning it caused the same.

                            Mouth break out from walnuts. Gross reaction to soy. Tongue bleeding once from unto or pineapple.

                            1. Well this question was asked back in '04 but what the hell, I see others have posted recently so I'll chime in. Being a cheese maker, I can tell you this does happen frequently with certain cheeses. I would not consider that reaction an allergy though, unless of course there are other symptoms like throat closing, trouble breathing, etc. From what I have experienced, it occurs in raw milk cheeses, and while there is still no definite answer as to why, most agree it has something to do with free fatty acids breaking down in the cheese over time, or a particular lactobacillus strain present in raw milk. While it is considered a defect, it is not harmful, and many people enjoy the sensation, that usually dulls over time.

                              1. Well, this just happened to me with cream cheese (lips and tongue tingling, chest feels somewhat tight, feel light-headed). Many of the foods that people are discussing are high-histamine foods. I have discovered that I have a histamine issue and am on a histamine intolerance diet. There are certain foods that cause your body to react to them. However, cream cheese is on the "safe" list, so I'm surprised. I already had two ER visits for this. I'm not sure what I reacted to and I'm working with an allergist to find out. I only ate one spoonful of cream cheese tonight, so I hope this will go away on its own. I might have to take a Benadryl. It seems that now that my hormones are changing going into menopause, I'm having this problem. Good luck, everyone!

                                1. About 17 years ago,I started having occasional problems with mouth sores and severe diarrhea. Each time it got worse and lasted longer. Finally I pinned it down to unpasteurized Parmesan cheese. I would get an immediate sensation like my mouth turned inside-out as soon as I ate some, then severe diarrhea and mouth sores lasting months. Eventually, it was all parmesan cheese, and also bleu cheese. Now I avoid cheese altogether. I have no problems with other foods. I recently read that parmesan cheese in the US contains a lot of illegal stuff. I'm trying to figure out it if's an allergy, or intolerance, and to what.