The Potential Danger of Tree Nuts
For many, almonds are a good snack food, but for others, there is the danger that these tree nuts could cause significant allergic symptoms and reactions. Although these allergic symptoms are typically not severe, there is the possibility that almonds could cause you to break out into hives or suffer asthma attacks. If these are mild symptoms, you may only experience mild wheezing or a difficulty with breathing. Unfortunately, the presence of these symptoms tends to worsen with time and more exposure to almonds. So, if you have an allergic reaction to almonds, it will probably only get worse as time goes on.
Other Symptoms of Almond Allergies
Going From Bad to Worse
Other allergic reactions to almonds include a swelling of throat, breathlessness, hives, or anaphylatic shock. A particularly part type of throat swelling is laryngospasm, where the vocal cords swell enough to block pathways for breathing. This is a very nasty form of allergic reaction to almonds or other tree nuts, and requires immediate medical attention in the form of a shot of epinephrine. The good news is that this probably won't happen the first time a person with a tree nut allergy eats almonds. However, exposure to tree nuts like almonds does sensitize people with allergies to these symptoms, so that they get worse with repeated exposures. For that reason, it is very important that if you experience mild symptoms the first time you try tree nuts, that you avoid them in the future.
Treatment For Almond Allergy Symptoms
Antihistamines, Adrenaline, and Avoidance
The other particularly bad allergic reaction to almonds is anaphylactic shock, which is potentially fatal. This reaction begins with a symptom of a metallic taste, and can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, loss of consciousness, difficulty breathing, and eventually death. Again, the best way to avoid experiencing these symptoms is by avoiding tree nuts like almonds. If that turns out to be impossible and a person with allergies goes into anaphylactic shock, they will probably need medical assistance and a shot of epinephrine (adrenalin). For milder versions of symptoms, an over-the-counter antihistamine may be sufficient to prevent exacerbation of the allergic reaction.
So Who Has Allergies to Tree Nuts?
Nearly 1% of the population has an allergy to peanuts (which are really legumes), and almost 0.5% of the population suffers from an allergy to tree nuts such as almonds. This with existing medical conditions of atopy (like asthma and hay fever) are genetically more inclined to develop serious nut allergies. But what is causing the allergic reaction in the first place?
Well, almonds and other tree nuts contain a heat-resistant protein that triggers allergic reactions in people who have not been desensitized to it through generations of diet and the climate of the area in which tree nuts are prevalent. The body usually breaks these proteins down in the stomach very quickly, but for some people this is not done, which triggers the allergic reaction (usually swelling). These proteins are also present in other materials and foods that cause similar allergic reactions, such as latex and peaches.
It is also unknown if there is a positive or negative correlation between exposure to tree nuts while in the womb and the development of allergies related to this protein. For new parents, it is best not to expose children to foods that can cause these allergic reactions before six months of age.
Finally, if you do have allergies to tree nuts, the best thing to do is to avoid them entirely, always making sure you know the contents of each dish you plan to eat. As with most things in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.