Symptoms and Diagnosis of a Nut Allergy


When someone with a peanut or tree nut allergy has something with nuts in it, the body releases chemicals like histamine, which can cause symptoms such as:

  • trouble breathing
  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • sneezing
  • hoarseness
  • itchy, or watery eyes,
  • swollen eyes
  • hives
  • swelling
  • throat tightness
  • stomachache
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • a drop in blood pressure
  • dizziness or fainting
  • anxiety or a feeling something bad is happening

Reactions to foods, like peanuts and tree nuts, can be different, as it all depends on a person. Sometimes the same person can react differently at different times.


Diagnosing a tree nut or peanut allergy can be complicated, since symptoms can vary from person to person, and a single individual may not always experience the same symptoms during every reaction.

If you suspect you or your child are allergic to peanuts, make an appointment to see an allergist. Start a food diary before the appointment, and keep track of any reactions, with notes on:

  • What you ate
  • how much you ate
  • When the symptoms started
  • How long it took before the symptoms were calmed
  • What you did to relieve the symptoms

Your allergist or a specialist will ask you about your history of allergy symptoms, and you’ll also be asked about your overall health and your family medical history, including any relatives with nut allergies.

Being that peanut allergy can be difficult to diagnose through skin tests or blood tests, your allergist may put you on a food elimination diet, in which you avoid the suspected food allergen for a specific period of time.

If your symptoms improve when the item is removed from your diet, it’s likely that you are allergic to it, but if the food elimination diet produces inconclusive results, your allergist may recommend an oral food challenge, during which you will be fed tiny amounts of peanut or peanut-based products in increasing doses over a period of time in an allergist’s office or a food challenge center.

Emergency medication and emergency equipment will be on hand during this procedure in case you develop a severe reaction.


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