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Almond Allergy

Although almond is an important member of the family of peach, apple, cherry, pear, strawberry, plum and apricot.

As many of us know almond is a basic ingredient of ice creams, sweets, bakery items, chewing gum, snacks and drinks. Therefore, almond allergy is prominent in children and adults.

What is almond Allergy?

Almond allergy is a hypersensitivity reaction that occurs immediately after an exposure to almonds. Almond allergy is a type of tree nut allergy. According to the Nemours foundation, allergy to almonds is the second most prevalent form of food allergy.

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Types of Almond Allergy

Almond allergy can be categorized broadly into two types:

Primary allergy

This occurs due to the direct exposure to the almonds when a person eats raw almonds or applies almond’s paste or almond oil onto broken skin.

It is mostly found in children. It begins with an initial sensitization to develop into potentially severe symptoms such as breathing difficulties, rarely marked by anaphylaxis.

Secondary allergy

This allergy is developed due to the allergy to birch pollen. One who is allergic to birch pollen is very likely to develop allergy against almonds because of a cross-reactivity occurring between the birch pollen protein and a similar kind of protein present in almonds.

The allergic conditions are marked by oral allergic symptoms such as itching or tingling in the mouth and lips or at the most swelling of the face or mouth.

Causes of Almond allergy

Cause of primary almond allergy

Almond consists of a protein that has a probability to trigger immune response in a human body against it. This does not happen every time. It can only happen if your immune system mistakenly recognizes the protein found in almonds to be an antigen and encounters by engulfing the protein with the help of specialized white blood cells and tries to eliminate the foreign protein with the help of antibodies produced.

To respond to this immune reaction, the body generates the production of a few molecules that induce inflammation to get rid of the invading protein particles more effectively. This is the potential cause in case of primary almond allergy.

Cause of secondary almond allergy

In case of secondary almond allergy, the causative link is termed as pollen food syndrome link. It happens due to a cross-reactive reaction occurring between the protein found in birch pollen and the protein found in almonds.

People who are allergic to the protein in birch pollen are usually found allergic to almonds due to the cross-reactive reaction. The major reason for cross-reactivity is the resemblance of both the proteins.

Symptoms of almond allergy

Almond allergies can be mild, severe and very rarely life threatening. The severity of allergic reactions is dependent on the particular protein to which an individual is allergic.

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The symptoms of almond allergy can accordingly be mild to severe and even potentially fatal.

Mild Almond Allergy symptoms

Let us have a glance at the symptoms of mild almond allergy. Mild allergy manifests itself in a several ways:

Respiratory symptoms

The Respiratory symptoms such as

  1. Difficulty in breathing
  2. Wheezing
  3. Nasal congestions
  4. Tightness in throat

Gastrointestinal Symptoms

  1. Nausea
  2. Vomiting
  3. and Diarrhea

Other symptoms

Other symptoms include:

  1. Itching or tingling in the mouth and lips
  2. Swelling of mouth
  3. Itchy skin rashes
  4. Redness of skin and
  5. Watery eyes

Almond Allergy Severe symptoms

The severe symptoms of almond allergy include:

  1. Laryngospasm (closure of the larynx that cause blockage of air passage to the lungs)
  2. Lightheadedness
  3. Tachycardia (Abnormally rapid heartbeat)
  4. Hypotension (low blood pressure) and
  5. Troubled breathing

Laryngospasm can prove to be fatal and even result to death if medical help is not offered at the earliest.

Anaphylactic shock is another fatal consequence of the severest form of almond allergy.

According to the reports of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, the individual showing the symptom of anaphylactic shock experiences a tingling sensation in mouth initially which changes to a metallic taste at a later point of time.

In the interval of a few minutes time to 2 hours, the individual experiences more severe symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, swelling of mouth and throat, difficulty in breathing, low blood pressure and gradually unconsciousness and even death. The symptoms occur in a progressive order with conditions either worsening or getting better.

Other associated symptoms

Since almond allergy is an immune reaction, therefore an individual might come across other associated symptoms besides the generalized ones such as:

  1. Headache
  2. Running nose,
  3. Sneezing
  4. Nausea or vomiting
  5. Worsening of asthma
  6. Difficulty in swallowing
  7. Skin rashes

Risk factors

Potential risk factors for the development of almond allergy are mentioned below:

Tender age

Age plays a vital role in the development of allergic conditions. Therefore, children are more susceptible to almond allergy as compared to older people. As people grow older, their digestive system undergoes maturation to pay less heed to the protein that triggers immune response.

Other allergies

People allergic to other nuts can grow the likeliness to develop allergy against almonds.

Prevalence of allergies in family

You are at a greater risk if some of your family members are allergic to either almonds or other foodstuffs.

Atopic dermatitis

People suffering from this skin disorder have more chances to be allergic to almonds.

Other associated allergies

People allergic to almonds are at a higher risk of being allergic to other tree nuts as well such as peanuts, cashews, walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and pecan nuts. However, it is not mandatory that if you are allergic to almonds, you will surely be allergic to the other nuts. You can get formal allergy test done for a complete pre-diagnosis.

Complications

Cutaneous (skin) and laryngeal manifestations of anaphylaxis are not always the reasons for a person’s death after the ingestion of almonds.

Consuming almonds present in a dessert has reportedly brought death to a person, which was absolutely sudden.

According to another report, ingestion of bitter almonds led to cyanide poisoning in an individual. These are some complications of almond allergy on which intensive research is going on.

Treatment of Almond Allergy

Doctors usually restrict the allergic patients from consuming raw almonds and other foodstuffs containing almond as one of the ingredients.

Some patients are also asked to strictly avoid almond oil. On the basis of the allergy test, if a patient is found potentially allergic to other nuts, it is advised to avoid those nuts as well.

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Fatal symptoms such as anaphylaxis require emergency medical treatment with epinephrine and adrenaline injections.

Treatment with the help of antihistamines is adopted in case of allergic conditions pertaining to skin.  Worsening of asthma can be dealt with by providing rescue inhalers, high flow oxygen and nebulized bronchodilators. Other severe symptoms are mostly treated with steroids.

Diet, prevention and caution

Almond in any form has to be completely avoided. Consult a good dietician to know about the other foodstuffs that a person allergic to almonds should avoid. Likewise, follow a strict regime to avoid the chances of developing almond allergy symptoms and live a healthy life.

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