Peanut allergy has doubled in the last 5 years and now affects 1/50 infants. Tree nut allergy (e.g. almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts) is also increasing.
Fortunately the majority of allergic reactions to nuts are mild, causing swelling of lips/face/eyes, hives, abdominal pain and vomiting.
However, serious reactions (anaphylaxis) can occur. Symptoms include difficult or noisy breathing, swelling of the tongue or throat, difficulty talking, hoarse voice, wheeze, cough, loss of consciousness and collapse.
Living with nut allergy
Nuts are widely used in cooking and can be hard to avoid. In some cases even trace amounts can trigger symptoms.
· Children should take their own nut-free food to school and not swap/share food.
· Always check food labels. Laws require foods which contain nuts to indicate this.
· Become familiar with high-risk foods.
· Be cautious with any food that you have not prepared yourself.
· Ring restaurants before dining out. Don’t rely on the menu. Speak to the manager.
· Notify the parents of your child’s friends if your child is visiting or staying over.
However, even with the greatest care, a nut-allergic person will have an accidental exposure every few years. Know in advance what to do if this occurs. Ask your GP for an ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis.
If your child has an adrenaline autoinjector, make sure it is always available wherever your child goes.