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Nuts are a rich source of energy but are also one of the most common food allergens. Both children and adults can suffer from nut allergies. While some children may outgrow the allergy, for others this is a lifelong condition. When it comes to children, the sibling of a child who is allergic to nuts also has a high risk of being allergic to them as well.
Nut allergies can be categorized as an allergy to peanuts or an allergy to tree nuts. Tree nuts are nuts that grow on trees such as walnuts, cashew nuts and almonds. Peanuts are not considered tree nuts as they grow underground in the form of legumes. A person can be allergic to both types of nuts but it is not necessary that if you are allergic to peanuts, you should avoid almonds as well and vice versa.
There are laboratory tests to determine the types of food you can be allergic to but in most cases, you realize you are allergic to something only after consuming it. Some of the symptoms of nut allergies include:
- Tenderness of the skin
- Swelling of the hands and feet
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Watery eyes
- Stomach cramps
- Shortness of breath
Most of the symptoms that affect the skin and respiratory system can be relieved with the help of antihistamines. Cold compresses can also help relieve itchiness caused by nut allergies.
One of the most severe forms of nut allergies can result in Anaphylaxis. This can be described as the swelling of the throat so much so that the airways are blocked and it becomes difficult to breathe. It is often accompanied by swelling of the facial features and itchiness. The only way to relieve this swelling is with an adrenaline injection. This reduces the swelling and reopens the airways. The most common type of adrenaline injection is known as an epi pen.
Some types of foods that commonly contain nuts and should be avoided include baked goods, pesto, nougat, marzipan, soups, multigrain bread, honey, granola, sauces such as hot sauce and barbeque sauce, salad dressings and veggie burgers. Nuts are often also used as thickening agents and hence if you know you are allergic to nuts, pay attention to food labels before you buy any product and make it a habit to tell your server in a restaurant that you are allergic to nuts. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a Dietitian/Nutritionist.