What You Need to Know About Nut Allergies
Nut allergies are a common but severe allergy. Nut allergies can affect people of all ages. Unfortunately, no matter how old you are when you get nut allergies, they are generally an allergy that sticks around. Of all the people who develop a nut allergy, fewer than 10% will outgrow it. Additionally, nut allergies tend to be a fairly serious allergy that can result in anaphylaxis shock, a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have nut allergies, consult an allergy specialist in Las Vegas for a diagnosis and treatment.
What Are Nut Allergies?
Nut allergies are a type of food allergy. Reactions to nut exposure can vary widely from mild GI symptoms to life-threatening reactions. People who develop nut allergies may have an allergy to pure nuts or byproducts of nuts, including nut oils and nut butters. Individuals may develop an allergy to various nuts, including cashews, almonds, and walnuts. Some less common nuts may also cause allergies, including lichee nuts and pine nuts. If you suspect that you are allergic to nuts or know that you have a nut allergy, you should avoid exposure to the nut itself along with all byproducts. It’s also important to read the ingredient labels on the foods you eat to ensure no products contain hidden nut ingredients.
What Causes Allergies?
If you have an allergic reaction to a substance, it means that your immune system is overactive. An allergic reaction happens when your body identifies a normally benign food or substance as hazardous and tries to fight it off. The symptoms and severity of an allergic reaction vary widely from one person to the next. Some people may get very sick from simply inhaling or swallowing small particles of the food they are allergic to, while others will get sick if they consume larger amounts of the food that causes their allergy.
How Common Are Nut Allergies?
Nut allergies are a relatively common allergy. They often appear in children, and the number of children afflicted with nut allergies appears to be increasing. In 2008, one study reported that 2.1% of all households surveyed in the US said they had at least one child with either a nut allergy, a peanut allergy, or both. In 2002, just 1.2 % of households reported having a child with a nut allergy in the family. In 1997, less than 1% of all households said they had a child with a peanut or a tree nut allergy. Since peanuts can be just as problematic as a tree nut allergy, a Las Vegas allergist will likely encourage you or your child to carry a medication called epinephrine if you are dealing with a serious allergy. Epinephrine is a type of adrenaline injection that can help stop a dangerous shock. Epinephrine is currently the only type of medication available to help manage an anaphylactic shock.
Some people are also curious to know if they should stay away from coconuts if they have a tree nut allergy. Other foods with the word “nut” in them, including nutmeg, may also raise questions. Fortunately, just because you are allergic to tree nuts does not necessarily mean you will have an adverse reaction if you encounter coconut. Coconut is considered a fruit rather than a nut. Therefore, people who have serious nut allergies can safely consume coconut. However, as with any food allergy, you must talk to your doctor before you decide to start adding new foods to your diet. Nutmeg, which can also raise questions about its safety, is also a suitable food for people with a nut allergy. Nutmeg is a spice instead of a nut. Therefore, it is derived from seeds and is considered safe to eat by people with tree nut allergies.
What are the Symptoms of Nut Allergies?
Nut allergies can produce a wide range of symptoms, including:
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Difficulty swallowing
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Itchy eyes, nose, and mouth
- Skin rashes and itching
- Shortness of breath
The symptoms of a nut allergy range in severity from mildly unpleasant to life-threatening. Since more severe allergies require prompt treatment, you should contact a Las Vegas allergist immediately if you think you are suffering from nut allergy symptoms. Only a Tottori allergy specialist can make an accurate diagnosis and start providing treatment to alleviate the risk of additional allergy complications.
Despite the fact that the word “nut” appears in the name, peanuts are actually not nuts. They are considered legumes, which means they are not a culprit if you have a tree nut allergy. However, even though peanuts belong to a different classification, many people who have a peanut allergy also have a tree nut allergy. Statistically, 25% – 40% of all people who have a peanut allergy are also allergic to at least one type of tree nut, if not more. Even if an allergy has not been formally diagnosed, allergists often tell people allergic to peanuts to avoid tree nuts and vice versa due to the risk of cross-contamination.
What Foods Have Nuts?
Nuts are unfortunately found in many food items. Some you might not even consider being a source of nuts. Some types of candy contain nuts, particularly chocolate candy. Some other types of dessert are common sources of nuts, including hot chocolate, ice cream, and pudding. Granola and cereal may contain tree nuts, as can many soups. Some soups contain peanuts as a thickening agent. Breads may also have peanuts or tree nuts, especially bread with grains. Energy bars may also contain nuts, as can honey, marinades, sauces, and other canned or prepared foods.
Nut Allergy Diagnosis
It is essential to have a suspected tree nut allergy diagnosed as soon as possible since nut allergies may produce a life-threatening reaction if they are not treated. To start, your allergist will begin by asking about your personal and family medical history. He or she will also ask about any other allergies you have and the type of reactions you have if you have an existing allergy. An allergist may conduct one or more tests to determine if you have an allergy. Based on your symptoms, history of allergies, and the test results, an allergy doctor in Las Vegas will recommend a treatment.
How Are Allergies Managed?
There are several methods available for managing allergies. While a Las Vegas allergist can certainly order allergy testing and prescribe medication to help manage your symptoms, an allergist will also recommend that you try to avoid nut exposure as much as possible.
If you are looking to find relief from your allergy symptoms, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Tottori, who is an experienced and knowledgeable allergy specialist in Las Vegas. Dr. Tottori can provide a range of services from allergy testing to symptom management and education to help you safely live with a tree nut allergy. Contact Tottori Allergy and Asthma online or
by calling (702) 240 4233.