Nuts! Oh…they sure can cause trouble if you are allergic to them and growing number of adults and kids alike are allergic to them. I became more attentive to it when my 3 year old daughter experienced it. The doctor identified the red rashes all over her body, as an allergic reaction to some food.
The doctor asked me to cut down on 8 foods namely eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shell fish, wheat and soy which accounts for about 90% of all the reactions.
So what type of food allergies are we talking about? It could be peanuts for one or tree nuts. (Almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashew).
Nut allergy is one of the most common types of food allergy in both children and adults. This allergy tends to last an entire lifetime, although about nine percent of children with a tree nut allergy and 20 percent of children with a peanut allergy eventually outgrow their allergy. On stopping the consumption of peanuts, the rashes never turned up, thus confirmed the nut allergy in case of my daughter.
The first thing that comes to one’s mind about having an allergy is, you picture non-stop sneezing, running nose etc. But, unlike an allergic dust or spring flower that many have, a nut allergy can cause difficulty in breathing and other serious issues including skin rashes etc. And could prove fatal at times.
Before we proceed towards, the symptoms, precautionary measures to take and substitutes, let’s quickly check out what exactly is a food allergy.
What is food allergy?
It is very important to know what food allergy is. People are seldom aware that one could be allergic to some food and that dust and flower allergies are not the only allergies that people may have.
The job of our body’s immune system is to identify and destroy the germs (such as bacteria or viruses) that make you sick. A food allergy occurs when this immune system wrongly identifies a harmless food as an allergen i.e a threat and attacks it.
When you come into contact with something that you are allergic to (an allergen), a group of cells in your body, called mast cells, release a substance called histamine. Histamine causes the tiny blood vessels in the tissues of your body to leak fluid which causes the tissues to swell. This results in a number of different symptoms.
The Symptoms may vary for person to person. Here is a list for you to go through. Basically the symptoms are divided into two categories-:
- Mild symptoms which can be cured by medication
Rashes, swelling of the extremities, redness and tenderness, hivesm nausea, stomach cramps, vomitting, diarrheo and breathing difficulty.
Quick action: Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or loratidine (Claritin) can help relieve rashes and hives. Cold, wet compresses can also help soothe irritated skin.
- Anaphylaxis: Life threatening
Constriction and tightening of airways, a swollen throat or the sensation of a lump in your throat that makes it difficult to breathe, Shock with a severe drop in blood pressure, Rapid pulse, Dizziness, lightheadedness or loss of consciousness
Quick Action: Emergency treatment is critical for anaphylaxis. Untreated, anaphylaxis can cause a coma or even death.
KEEP YOURSELF ALERT !!
A person with an allergy to one type of tree nut has a higher chance of being allergic to other types. Therefore, many experts advise patients with allergy to tree nuts to avoid all nuts. Here are few precautionary actions to need to take care of:
- Avoid peanuts and tree nuts. This means we also need to avoid foods containing them like cookies, candies, ice creams, yogurts, sauces, Thai, Chinese and Indian dishes that often contain peanut and tree nut. One can have these without the nuts in them.
- Read labels while you purchase foods from market. Keep at bay all the food products which say “may contain nuts” or “produced on shared equipment with nuts or peanuts”
- Be very cautious in the kitchen while using the equipments. Knife, spoon or any vessel in which peanut or nut food preparation was used should be properly washed before using it again.
- Inform about your allergy to everyone with whom you enjoy your food like your family, friends and colleagues so that they are careful while serving you food. When you visit a restaurant, be very careful to check the ingredient list or ask the manager about the foods served. Don’t feel shy and if they are not willing to share, better opt for some other restaurant. (Abroad restaurant menus do specify dishes that have nuts and warn anyone with nut allergy. But, in India we do have to ask and let the person know about your allergies)
- Keep rescue medicines on you at all times — not in your locker, but in a pocket, purse, or bag that’s with you.
- If your child is suffering from nuts allergy, inform this in their school.
Take care of your loved ones, by being extra careful of what they are eating. Make them happy by suggesting these alternatives such as sunflower seed butter or soy nut butter, hummus and nut free granola bars over peanuts and tree nuts.