An individual does not have to develop an allergic reaction to peanuts or tree nuts the initial time he/she comes in contact or consumes them. One can enjoy them several times and over time as the body establishes its immune system response, the individual will start to notice the symptoms.
If an individual is diagnosed with an allergy to nuts, lifelong avoidance is the suitable treatment. Remember that the immune system seems to recognize the peanut proteins more easily.
The first time that the individual consumes nuts or peanuts, even if there is no evident allergic reaction within the body, the immune system reacts to the protein as preparation for the next time he/she eats peanuts or any food that contains peanuts.
Shortly after eating a handful of nuts, the immune system starts to produce antibodies especially for the proteins present in peanuts. These antibodies are called immunoglobulin E or IgE. The next time the individual consumes peanuts, the antibodies are ready. They eventually recognize the peanut protein and releases several chemicals into the body. Histamine is one chemical which triggers a definite allergic reaction.
After consuming peanuts or any food that includes peanuts, the individual will end up with the break out of red-colored, itchy rashes. The skin on the neck, hands, legs and face starts to become puffy.
The individual will start sneezing while the nose becomes runny. If he/she has asthma, the individual will end up with an asthma attack along with difficulty breathing and wheezing.
The heart starts to beat in a rapid manner. In most cases, the individual will also develop nausea, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. These symptoms quickly develop and oftentimes as soon as the individual ate peanuts or within 2 hours after ingesting the nuts. Some allergic reactions can develop about 4 hours after consuming peanuts, but this is considered rare. Once an individual develops a severe reaction or anaphylaxis, the throat starts to feel tight along with difficulty swallowing and an impending sense of doom. Once the airway closes, the voice also starts to change.
What are the affected systems?
Peanut allergy can affect the whole body from the inside out. The skin is typically affected as well as the respiratory system. The symptoms include sneezing, runny nose and watery or itchy eyes. In addition, the individual also starts to cough.
In case of severe reactions, the cardiovascular system is also involved in which the individual becomes lightheaded and even pass out. The digestive tract is also affected which results to abdominal cramping, nausea, diarrhea and even vomiting. During a severe reaction or anaphylaxis, the blood pressure drops abruptly and eventually loses consciousness. The airways also start to swell which makes it difficult for the individual to breath.
An allergy to peanuts can also include tree nuts such as walnuts and cashews. When an allergic reaction to tree nut occurs, the following symptoms can manifest:
- Digestive symptoms
- Runny nose
- Sneezing episodes
- Asthma symptoms
When a severe reaction to peanuts occur, there is a possibility that anaphylaxis will occur which requires immediate medical care.