Nut allergies are often cited as the most-commonly occurring allergies within children. Nuts happen to crop up as one of eight specific foods which account for 90% of all allergic reactions, amongst both children and adults. Peanut and tree-nut allergies typically develop during childhood, and frequently persist for an entire lifetime. An estimated 3 million people within the United States alone suffer from peanut or other various forms of nut allergies. This particular metric has exponentially risen in recent few decades, going on to triple in both number and scale between the years 1997 and 2008.
Detecting such allergies may prove to be challenging; it would be first necessary to draw a distinction between a tree-nut allergy, and a peanut allergy. Peanuts cannot be classified as a type of tree-nut due to them being recognized as legumes, whereas a tree-nut is a hard-shelled fruit.
Tree-nuts include chestnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, pine nuts, pistachios, pecans, and the like. For an average individual, a normal routine involving outdoor activity or varied food consumption may potentially risk them from running into contact with any – and more – of the tree-nuts and their derivative oils listed above, and enter a state of anaphylactic shock.
The signs and symptoms
The typical symptoms of a tree-nut allergy may include moderate to severe nausea and vomiting; persistent abdominal pain and cramping; diarrhea; itching or inflamed skin, particularly around the mouth and eyes; an itching and swollen throat; nasal congestion; difficulty breathing, or asthmatic attacks in rare cases; and anaphylaxis.
If symptoms occur and persist, the patient should be escorted to a doctor or emergency room immediately. An allergist may determine the triggering food or tree-nut responsible for the allergic reaction. If the individual in question is already aware of their nut allergies, an epinephrine (or EpiPen) injection should be carried at all times, and administered when severe symptoms appear.
When often dealing with any type or degree of allergy, avoidance and caution play pivotal roles in ensuring the safety, health, and wellbeing of the individual suffering from the allergies. When dealing with nut allergies, the task of strict and conscientious avoidance may appear to be daunting; perhaps a knife with traces of peanut butter residue was left unwashed and open for later use; the kitchen of a restaurant you and your family select to dine in may not inform patrons beforehand of any tree-nut oils they employ to prepare dishes; perhaps your child is offered a sandwich in school smeared with hazelnut spread, and they unwillingly bite into it – there are a range and variety of problems that may present themselves to any individual carrying nut allergies.
However, informed conversation and meaningful communication may prove to bode well in tackling such issues; restaurant managers and chefs may be phoned beforehand, and teachers may be clued-up to the sensitivity or severity of your child’s nut allergies.
If you or your child suffers from a tree-nut allergy, it is best to avoid peanuts to evade risking cross-contamination or cross-contact.
Carefully read labels behind purchased products; it is necessary by law to highlight tree-nuts and tree-nut derivatives (such as oils and butters) amongst other high-risk allergens in the United States. Tree-nuts are often used as garnishing on salads, or sprinkled on top of ice-creams and baked goods; hence, it is always best to stay alert for such instances. Moreover, tree-nuts are often also found in sauces, breading, various desserts, and baking mixes.
Certain lotions and cosmetic items may additionally include tree-nut oils as main ingredients. Beverages – such as certain alcohols – should additionally be researched on thoroughly before being consumed.
DISCLAIMER: The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.