A Tree Nut Allergy is a hypersensitivity to the protein contained in tree nuts. This causes the immune system to overreact. As a result, patients observe physical symptoms that may range from mild itchiness or pruritus to eczema, facial swelling, asthma, blood pressure drop and even cardiac arrest or anaphylaxis. Some of most common types of nuts to cause these reactions are: cashews, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, pine nuts and pistachios. However, most people are allergic to all or a few of these nuts, not just to a single type.
A Peanut Allergy is also related to the patients’ inability to digest the protein contained in the peanuts and therefore the immune system attacks it, treating the protein as a foreign substance. The Peanut Allergy also bears a significant difference from the nut allergy: it is classified as a type one reaction. Moreover, the reaction is far more severe – this is the number one cause of death by food-related anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis is the most serious allergic reaction. Due to the fact that it onsets rapidly, it can lead to death if not caught in time. In a nutshell, anaphylaxis can cause itchiness, low blood pressure and throat swelling to such a degree that the patient’s airways are completely shut, preventing the organism to get oxygen.
The first aid for someone in anaphylactic shock consists of injecting epinephrine (people who suffer from allergies usually carry an epinephrine injector at all times) and positioning the patient flat until the arrival of the ambulance.
If you notice anyone around you having these symptoms, don’t wait until it’s too late and the person goes into an anaphylactic shock! Apply first aid measures (as described above) and immediately call for an ambulance. Even if you have an epinephrine injector at hand, the patient may require medical observation and further treatment, as anaphylaxis can reoccur.