A tree nut allergy is a hypersensitivity to nutritional substances from tree nuts and edible tree seeds resulting in an overreaction of the immune system which might lead to acute physical symptoms. Tree nuts comprise, but aren’t restricted to, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chestnuts, filberts/hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts, shea nuts and walnuts.
Tree nut allergies are somewhat different from peanut allergy, like peanuts are legumes, whereas a tree nut is an hard-shelled nut.
Description of Tree Nut Allergy
Individuals with tree nut allergy are infrequently allergic to only 1 kind of nut, and are hence usually advised to prevent all tree nuts, although a person might not be allergic to the nuts of most types of trees.
Someone allergic to walnuts or pecans may not have an allergy to cashews or pistachios, because the two groups are only distantly related and do not necessarily share related allergenic proteins. The severity of the allergy varies from person to person, and exposure can increase sensitization. For those with a milder form of the allergy, a reaction which makes the throat feel like cotton may occur. Subjects allergic to tree nut can experience asthma, skin rashes, itchy throat, swollen eyes. The most severe reaction can lead to anaphylaxis and sensitive subjects may need to carry with them at all times disposable adrenaline injectors prescribed by their GP. Less severe reaction can be dealt with by assuming antihistamines tablet. The raw nut protein usually causes a more severe reaction than the oil, and extra roasting or processing can reduce the allergic reaction. Those diagnosed with anaphylaxis will have a more immediate mast cell reaction and be required to avoid all exposure to any allergen-containing products or byproducts, regardless of processing, as they are prone to even greater sensitivity. An allergy test or food challenge may be performed at an allergy clinic to determine the exact allergens. New immunotherapy treatments are being developed for tree nut allergy.
This allergy tends to be lifelong; recent studies have shown that only about 9% of children outgrow their tree nut allergy.
Prevention and treatment of Tree Nut Allergy
Prevention entails an exception diet and cautious avoidance of foods that may be infected with tree nuts, nut particles, or oils extracted from nuts. From the United States, the national Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) demands that any packaged food product which includes tree nuts as a component has to list the particular tree nut over the tag. Foods that nearly always contain tree nuts comprise pesto, marzipan, Nutella, baklava, pralines, nougat, gianduja, and turrón. Other common foods which may contain tree nuts comprise cereals, breads, biscuits, baked goods, candy, chocolates, energy/granola bars, flavored coffee, frozen desserts, marinades, barbecue sauces, along with a few cold cuts, including mortadella. Tree nut oils (particularly shea nut) are also occasionally utilized in soaps and lotions. African and Asian American restaurants, ice cream parlors, and bakeries are thought to be high-risk for individuals with tree nut allergy symptoms because of the frequent usage of nuts along with the chance of cross contamination.