Tree Nuts

Causes and Symptoms

Published on Sunday, 24 June 2012 12:36

Causes

There are a few ways that a person with a tree nut allergy may experience a reaction: ingestion, cross-contamination (when tree nuts and peanuts are accidentally included in food during food processing; therefore, food labels often state “may contain nuts” in the ingredient portion), and when particles like tree nut or peanut dust, flour or sprays containing the allergen are inhaled. 

Symptoms

   Wheezing, difficulty breathing

Runny nose, congestion

Hives

Swelling of the lips, eyes, face, tongue and/or throat

Mouth tingles or is itchy

Skin rash (note: eczema is a common skin condition often associated with food allergies, see your doctor for proper diagnosis)

Diarrhea

Loose stools

Dizziness, lightheadedness

Cramps

Vomiting

Coughing

Asthma

Anaphylaxis (can occur in some severe cases) Anaphylaxis is when the throat swells making breathing difficult because the airways constrict.  Other symptoms may include a rapid pulse, dizziness, shock, and lightheadedness.  This is life threatening and needs to be treated immediately by a clinician.

A tree nut allergy occurs when the immune system treats a protein in tree nuts as a threat to the body. The immune system uses antibodies to fight the “threatening” substance - the antigen, which is the protein in the tree nut. Immunoglobulin E, or IgE, is an antibody that is produced by the body to attack the food protein (the antigen).  Once the antibodies have contact with the antigen it signals an attack on the protein by releasing histamine and other chemicals. These chemicals cause the allergic symptoms.