Overview of a Peanut – Nut Allergy
A nut allergy is one of the most common causes of a severe allergic reaction and can oftentimes be life-threatening. Children with nut allergies are increasing. Even if the reaction begins small, consult an allergist because of the risk for a more serious reaction.
- The smallest amount of nut, whether ingested or inhaled, may cause a huge allergic reaction.
- If you are allergic to one type of nut, it is probable that you are also allergic to other types.
- Only about 9% of children who have an allergy to tree nuts will outgrow them and their younger siblings are at a higher risk of allergy too.
- Peanuts are the most common cause of allergy attacks and is typically life threatening.
- Symptoms include: runny nose, skin reactions, itching around mouth and throat, and shortness of breath.
Symptoms of a Peanut – Nut Allergy
Minutes after exposure to nuts can begin the first side effects. Some side effects may include a runny nose, shortness of breath, wheezing, tightening of the throat, hives, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, or vomiting. Severe reactions may occur. In a severe reaction, the airways will constrict making it difficult to breathe, the blood pressure will drop and you may feel dizzy.
Causes of a Peanut – Nut Allergy
A nut allergy occurs when your body reacts to the nuts as if it were harmful. Exposure to nuts can be done through direct contact, which means directly eating nuts or nut-containing foods, or even just touching the food. Cross-contact exposure occurs when the food you ingest has been in contact with nuts during processing or handling. Inhalation may occur if you inhale something such as peanut flour or peanut cooking spray.
Risk Factors of a Peanut – Nut Allergy
There are a variety of risk factors that can lead to an increased risk of a nut allergy. These include age, as a nut allergy is very common in children. If you were allergic to nuts as a child, and felt as though you had outgrown it, it may occur again into adulthood. If you are allergic to other foods, then you will be at an increased risk for a nut allergy. Typically, people with atopic dermatitis, or eczema, can also have a nut allergy. If your family member has a nut allergy, or a food allergy in general, you are at a higher risk for a nut allergy too.
Complications of a Peanut – Nut Allergy
A severe allergic reaction is common in people with nut allergies. It is so important to avoid the allergen altogether as best as possible. In nut allergies, it may be very difficult as they can be found in many processed foods and also can be easily cross-contaminated. In a severe allergic reaction, a dose of epinephrine will be necessary. Have an allergy action plan ready.
Prevention of a Peanut – Nut Allergy
Prevention is key in avoiding this allergy. Check your labels before purchasing food. If you are eating a restaurant, be sure your server knows about your allergy in an effort to eliminate any cross-contamination. You can even request that your server change their gloves to non-contaminated gloves.
Diagnosis of a Peanut – Nut Allergy
Your allergist will begin by asking about your symptoms and medical history. The allergist may ask you to keep a food diary to watch for any foods that trigger symptoms. The elimination diet is typically the next step, and your allergist will have you eliminate a food group from your diet, and will slowly work them back in to see which ones trigger a reaction. A skin test will allow the allergist to confirm the diagnosis, as a small amount of food will be placed on the skin and pricked with a needle. If these do not work, a blood test can be administered to determine how your immune system responds to particular foods.
Treatment of a Peanut – Nut Allergy
The best treatment for a nut allergy is to avoid the allergen, however, that may not always be possible. In the case of a mild reaction, you will have to treat the side effects. For example, take an antihistamine to relieve any congestion or other side effects. In extreme cases, you will need to administer a dose of epinephrine. Speak with your allergist and formulate an allergy action plan to properly treat your allergy.
Summary of a Peanut – Nut Allergy
A nut allergy is the most common allergy that is found in children. Oftentimes, children will outgrow their allergy. Preventing an allergic reaction to nuts can prove to be difficult, as there are many cases of cross-contamination. Your allergist may diagnose through a few different ways including: physical examination, food diary, food elimination, skin test or blood test.
Can you all of a sudden become allergic to nuts?
Most food allergies begin as a child, but in some cases, an allergy to nuts can begin as an adult.
What is the most common nut allergy?
The most common nut allergies are walnut, hazelnut, pecan, cashew, pistachio, and almond.
How quickly do nut allergies react?
An allergic reaction to nuts can occur quickly, usually between just a few minutes to an hour. The reaction can be mild to severe.
Why are people allergic to nuts?
People can be allergic to nuts when the body thinks that these proteins are harmful and the reaction is caused by the body trying to fight these off.