Peanuts and other nuts are among some of the most popular snacks in the world (and, yes, we know that peanuts are technically considered to be legumes). In fact, between 2008 and 2014, Americans consumed about 120 million pounds of peanut butter each year. However, peanuts and other nuts are also some of the most common allergy-causing foods. This, sadly, means that many people don’t get to enjoy peanuts, macadamia nuts, or other nut products. If you, someone in your family, or a close friend has a nut allergy, then it’s important to understand what someone with a nut allergy experiences and how it can be managed. Because of this, this article is going to provide a brief overview of nut allergies.
So, what exactly happens with a nut allergy? When someone is allergic to nuts, their immune system overreacts to the proteins in nut products. That means every time a person with an allergy eats, or in severe cases, simply comes into contact with nut particles in the air, their immune system fights off the invading proteins. This causes an allergic reaction, which can range from mild irritation and swelling to life-threatening anaphylactic shock. Because there are so many different types of nuts, some people may be allergic to some but not others.
What are the symptoms of a nut allergy? Unfortunately, many people learn the hard way that their body cannot tolerate nuts, as opposed to discovering their allergy through an allergy test. In mild cases, an allergic reaction will cause little more than a mild rash. In cases of severe nut allergies, even indirect exposure to nuts can cause extreme difficulty breathing. If the throat swells so much that the individual can’t breath, the reaction can quickly become life threatening.
Common symptoms of an allergic reaction to nuts may include:
- Tingling in the mouth
- Wheezing or trouble breathing
- Throat tightness
- Itchy or swollen eyes
- A drop in blood pressure
Severe cases of nut allergies may result in anaphylaxis. This reaction may begin with some of the same symptoms as a mild reaction, but then quickly worsen. If not treated quickly, anaphylaxis can become life-threatening. With anaphylaxis or other severe symptoms, a person should receive emergency medical care as soon as possible.
Fortunately, while nut allergies can be severe, they are easily managed. Food allergies are easy to manage because the easiest way to avoid an allergic reaction is to simply avoid eating the food products in the first place. And because nut and peanut allergies are so common, many food labels and restaurants warn customers when nut products may be present. As such, food labels should always be carefully read and menus examined when eating out, and it’s always important to check with the restaurant for possible peanut oil uses in cooking.
Unfortunately, there is no known peanut allergy cure (though many researchers are working on it!). So while this means those with nut allergies may not get to enjoy yummy macadamia nuts or reap the health advantages of peanut snacks, they just have to be careful about what they’re eating.
There are many benefits of eating peanuts, but those with nut allergies have to find health benefits from other foods. Nut allergies are fairly common, so it’s important to be careful about what you eat around those with severe allergies.