Medical News

Nut Allergy

Please be informed and reminded that we are a nut-free campus.

We have several children who have severe allergies and exposure could have a serious reaction.

An allergy occurs when your body’s immune system, overreacts to a substance called an allergen. Most allergens are not obviously harmful and they have no effect on people who are not allergic to them. Allergic reactions to allergens can vary from mild to life-threatening.

Both peanuts and tree nuts can act as allergens, and can cause an allergic reaction in some people. When you come into contact with something that you are allergic to (an allergen), your body releases a substance called histamine. Histamine causes the tiny blood vessels in the tissues of your body to leak fluid which causes the tissues to swell.

Most people with a nut allergy react after contact with small amounts (less than one nut) and some people may react to trace amounts. This means that you don’t always have to eat nuts to have a reaction. A few people are so sensitive to nut allergens that a tiny amount on their lips, or even standing next to someone eating peanuts, can be enough to start a reaction.

There are lots of different allergens but nuts cause some of the strongest and most severe reactions and are the most common type of severe food allergy. If you have an allergy to peanuts then you may also react to tree nuts.

Symptoms

Allergic reactions to nuts can vary from mild to very severe, and are sometimes life-threatening. Symptoms often start very quickly, within an hour of having come into contact with a nut, and sometimes within minutes. Reactions that take place more than four hours after coming into contact with nuts are unlikely to be an allergy.

Signs and symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

  • Mouth and lips tingling
  • Swelling of the face
  • Feeling sick
  • Urticaria (rash or hives)
  • Colicky pains in your abdomen (tummy or stomach)
  • A feeling of tightness around your throat

Signs and symptoms of a more severe allergic reaction can include:

  • All of the above symptoms of mild allergic reaction
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing due to an asthma-like attack, or swelling around your throat
  • A sense of impending doom
  • Dilation (opening up) of your blood vessels, which can cause:
    • general redness of your skin
    • a fast heart rate
    • a low blood pressure, which can cause you to feel faint or to collapse

This severe reaction is called anaphylaxis and without quick treatment you would soon become unconscious. A small number of people die every year as a result of this kind of severe reaction, usually because they do not get treatment quickly enough.

Avoid nuts wherever possible

Preventing an allergic reaction from happening in the first place is a key part of living with a nut allergy. So, learn to recognise foods that may contain nuts and avoid them.

BSM Nurses

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