How to Test for Nut Allergies
Nut allergies and peanut allergies run in families
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, one out of five people in the U.S. has an allergy. Because there is a genetic component to allergies, if one parent has any kind of allergy, there is a 33 percent chance that his or her child will have an allergy. If both parents have allergies, chances increase to 70 percent.
Testing for nut allergies is necessary if either parent is allergic to peanuts or tree nuts
If either parent has a peanut allergy, you may want to discuss having your child tested for a nut allergy as well. Although nuts grow on trees and peanuts are legumes that grow in the ground, some people are allergic to both of them. Cashews, almonds, pecans, and walnuts are nuts that your child may be allergic to.
Allergy testing can save your child from a serious allergic reaction to tree nuts
Some of the symptoms of tree nut allergies are eczema, hives, asthma, or anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening in a matter of minutes, and emergency care is needed quickly. A person can have swelling of the throat and go into anaphylactic shock in a matter of minutes. Digestive problems can also result from tree allergies, including cramps, diarrhea, or vomiting.
Skin tests can be performed to see if your child has a nut allergy
There are four types of skin tests that may be used to test for nut allergies. Many children are afraid of needles, so this could be difficult to do. The four types of skin tests are scratch, puncture, prick, an intradermal.
Children may experience anaphylaxis even from a very small amount of tree nut substance that is injected under the skin. Fortunately, allergists are trained to recognize and treat anaphylaxis, and they will treat your child with epinephrine immediately if this happens.
Allergy skin testing usually requires that you stop taking antihistamines
Life without antihistamines can be extremely miserable for a person with allergies. Many allergists expect patients to discontinue Bendryl or other antihistamines around one week before testing.
In this time, your child could develop an asthma attack, ear infection, or other side effect from allergies. Depending on the severity of the allergy, your doctor may want to perform another type of test for tree nut allergies.
Blood tests are usually best for anyone with severe allergies
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, blood tests and skin tests both have about 90 percent accuracy at diagnosing allergies. Blood tests involve one prick for blood to be drawn, so they are sometimes much easier on children. If a nut allergy exists, levels of IgE antibodies will be in the blood.
An elimination diet is another way to test for nut allergies
Elimination diets involve not eating the foods that are the most common causes of food allergies. These are milk, soybeans, eggs, wheat, peanuts, nuts, shellfish, and corn. These foods are the cause of more than 80 percent of food allergies.
By not eating these foods for about a week, you can tell that you are allergic to them if your allergy symptoms improve. If they do not, the doctor will tell you not to eat certain other foods until the one you are allergic to is discovered.