Many people suffer from food allergies and the most common offenders
are nuts, shellfish, milk, and eggs. The most common food allergy in children,
and reportedly the deadliest in severe cases, is a peanut allergy. It
can be difficult for someone with a nut allergy to avoid foods containing
nuts or nut products, such as oil or butter, but learning about this common
allergy is the first step.
For most, nut allergies are mild to moderate and can result in hives,
swelling, nausea or vomiting. In severe cases, exposure to nuts can cause
anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is an allergic response that can be life threatening.
Symptoms include hives, swelling, a drop in blood pressure and dilated
blood vessels. If a person's blood pressure drops severely and their airway
becomes blocked from swelling, they can choke or become unconscious. Failure
to treat anaphylactic shock immediately can result in death.
Some people have such severe nut allergies that even a single nut molecule
can cause a reaction. While not every person has such severe cases, nut
allergies should be taken seriously. It is important to read the labels
of products to determine if they contain nuts or ingredients that are
derived from nuts. In addition, some products not containing nuts or nut
ingredients may be manufactured in plants where nuts are present. In this
case, a person with nut allergies should err on the side of caution and
avoid consuming such products.
Because nut allergies are an increasing concern, it is important to be
responsible with nut products in environments where many children are
present. Before sending snacks for parties or gifts to teachers in a child's
classroom, check if any nut allergies are present in the class. If your
child attends a school or daycare where a child with severe nut allergies
is in attendance, you should be notified that products containing nuts
or nut ingredients are banned. Likewise, if you have a child with a severe
nut allergy, be sure to inform the people in charge of your child's care
when away from home. If you suspect you or your child may have nut allergies,
you should consult a doctor or allergy specialist to learn the extent
of your allergies and how to avoid and treat reactions.