Tree nut allergy: Avoiding all tree nuts 'may not be necessary'

Posted at 4:56 PM, Mar 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-28 16:03:09-04

A new study finds certain tests for tree nut allergies may not be accurate and many people may be over diagnosed.

If a tree nut allergy is suspected, you’re often given blood or skin-prick tests. To test the accuracy of these, researchers from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology had 109 patients with one tree nut allergy take these tests.

The results showed allergy sensitivities. Researchers then had everyone take an oral food challenge.  Surprisingly, 50% of the participants had no reaction. Their conclusion is blood and skin-prick tests are not as reliable as oral food challenges.

An oral food challenge is when you eat tiny pieces of tree nuts in a controlled medical setting. You should NOT do your own oral food challenge at home. Tree nut allergies are in the top 8 foods that cause 90% of serious allergic reactions for Americans. If you have a tree nut allergy, here are my prescriptions:

Partha’s RX

1.     Visit your allergist and ask about oral food testing.  This should only be supervised by trained, board-certified allergist in case a severe, life-threatening reaction occurs.
2.     Watch for tree nut oils in lotions, soaps, and hair products. Be sure to read labels carefully.
3.     Always be prepared for an allergic reaction.  Carry emergency medications at all times.
4.     You can develop food allergies at any age.  If you experience trouble breathing, stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, itchy mouth, throat, or eyes, seek medical care immediately.

There is always confusion around peanuts because the word ‘nut’ is part of the name. Tree nuts refer to eight nuts: almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts and macadamia nuts. 

Peanuts are not on this list because they are legumes. They’re grown underground, not on a tree. Also, its important to know that peanut and tree nuts allergies are the most common causes of anaphylaxis in the United States.