Nut Allergy

While many foods may cause mild allergic reactions, tree nuts are capable of causing life-threatening allergy attacks.  Peanuts, in particular, are capable of producing severe reactions, although they aren’t actually a true nut.  Peanuts, along with beans and lentils, are legumes, but they have a chemical structure that is similar to tree nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc.) so they can elicit a similar allergic reaction.

Nuts are harmless enough.  The problem is your body’s perception of those nuts.  With an allergic reaction, the body mistakes the proteins in nuts for “invading enemies” and releases chemicals to fight them off.  Those chemicals lead to allergic reactions that are often severe.

Unlike other food allergies such as egg and milk allergies which people tend to “age out” of, peanut and tree nut allergies are often life-long companions.

Signs of nut allergy:

Nut and peanut allergies often flare up directly after exposure to nuts. In some cases, they may lead to life-threatening anaphylaxis requiring emergency treatment.

If you experience even a mild reaction to nuts or peanuts, consult a doctor, as severe reactions could result down the line.

Symptoms often occur directly after exposure to nuts and may include:

  • Skin rash
  • Itching or tingling in or around the mouth and throat
  • Digestive symptoms (diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea or vomiting)
  • Tightness of the throat
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Runny nose
  • Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is often characterized by constricted airways, difficulty breathing, and shock.

Medical studies have recently shown sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) to be capable of safely reducing the effects of peanut allergies.1

And while AllergyEasy physicians do not treat peanut allergies, they do use SLIT to deliver an under-the-tongue food serum that contains nearly 60 food antigens including eggs, wheat, milk, etc.

As with allergy shots, SLIT uses an allergy serum to help patients build up immunity to certain allergens.  But instead of delivering this serum through injections, SLIT relies on under-the-tongue or sublingual drops that are absorbed into the bloodstream through special cells in the mouth.  The serum is designed to desensitize patients to allergy-causing foods, so they can eat more of the foods they enjoy.

Contact AllergyEasy to find a physician in your area who specializes in sublingual immunotherapy.

1 Kim EH, Bird JA, Kulius M, Laubach S, Pons L, Shreffler W, Steele P, Kamilaris J, Vickery B, Burks AW. “Sublingual immunotherapy for peanut allergy: clinical and immunologic evidence of desensitization.” Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology Mar 2011.

1Click here for more research on sublingual immunotherapy for food allergies.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.