Nut Allergies: What You Need to Know

Nut allergy is one of the most common food allergies. It’s listed among the “top 8” food allergies which are estimated to underlie 90 percent of all food allergies. The list includes fish, shellfish, milk, eggs, tree nuts, wheat, soy, and peanuts. (Note that peanuts are actually a legume, not a true nut.)

peanut allergies

While most childhood allergies (such as to milk and eggs) are naturally outgrown, nut allergies tend to linger into adulthood. In fact, only about 10 percent of people naturally outgrown tree nut allergies.

The immune system of a person with nut allergy mistakenly identifies the nuts as harmful objects once they enter the body and releases histamines and other chemicals to attack them. These chemicals lead to a host of symptoms:

Skin Reactions:

  • Hives
  • Rashes
  • Redness and tenderness
  • Swelling of the extremities

Hay fever:

  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Stuffy or runny nose

Digestive Complications:

  • Nausea
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Other symptoms include itchy and watery eyes, difficulty in breathing, and in some rare cases, full-blown anaphylaxis (which can be fatal).

Managing Nut Allergies

If you or your child suffers from a nut allergy, the most efficient way to handle it is to avoid consuming nuts or anything that may contain nut allergens such as nut oils and butters. Allergists recommend reading food labels first before consuming any food product.

The Federal Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) requires all food product manufacturers to clearly identify nut-related ingredients on a product’s label. If a product contains nuts or was manufactured in a facility that produces other products containing nuts, manufacturers must properly identify possible nut exposure on the label.

Aside from avoiding nut consumption and reading food labels carefully, experts also recommend consulting an allergist. And while there was not formerly a treatment for nut allergy, sublingual immunotherapy (similar to allergy shots but uses oral drops) has been found to be effective in minimizing the effects of nut allergies. Contact AllergyEasy for more details.

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.