Hazelnut Allergy: Symptoms and Treatment
Among the most common tree nut allergies are hazelnuts, affecting 0.2% to 0.5% of people in the United States. Brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, pecans, and pistachios are among the most common tree nuts.
The article will discuss hazelnut allergy symptoms, how to diagnose it, and how to manage it if you have it. It will also explain where hazelnuts can be found as well as what symptoms an allergic reaction can cause.
Where Hazelnuts Are Found?
Most of the continental United States is suitable for growing hazelnuts.
Here’s where you can find hazelnuts:
- Snacks made with mixed nuts
- It’s in cookies and chocolates
- In nut oils
- In confections such as praline
- In chocolate-nut spreads like Nutella
- In Frangelico hazelnut liqueur
Hazelnut Allergy Symptoms
Symptoms of a hazelnut allergy usually appear shortly after or immediately after consuming the nut or its products.
There are several possible reactions, from the least severe to the most severe:
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
- Wheezing or coughing
- Itching of the mouth, throat, eyes, skin, or any other area
- Nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing
- Shortness of breath
Swelling of lips, tongue, or face
A severe, life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis can occur suddenly, leaving the person having difficulty breathing and possibly going into shock. Among the most common allergens associated with anaphylaxis are tree nut allergies.3 Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency.
Causes and Risk Factors
In addition to tree nut allergies, eczema and asthma are associated with tree nut allergies. Tree nut allergies typically begin in childhood.
In allergic reactions, the immune system reacts as if there was a harmful substance in the hazelnuts, leading to the symptoms.
Oral Allergy Syndrome
Oral allergy syndrome (OAS), also called pollen food allergy syndrome, describes an allergic reaction where people who are allergic to certain types of pollen are also susceptible to allergic reactions to certain foods that are related to those pollens.
In addition to birch pollen allergies, many people also react to hazelnut allergies. Birch pollen contains similar allergens to hazelnuts, so the body reacts to both.5
There are usually only a few symptoms associated with hazelnut oral allergy syndrome, including:
It is possible for some people with OAS to have more severe reactions that may include the following:
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat
- Delayed gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal cramps, diarrhea)
OAS patients rarely experience anaphylaxis.
In addition to peanut allergies, approximately 25% to 40% of those who have tree nut allergies also have peanut allergies.
Taking your medical history and asking about the timing of your symptoms is the first step in diagnosing a hazelnut allergy.
A skin prick test is likely to be performed by the allergist.
IgE antibodies bind to allergens and release chemicals that trigger symptoms when they are in the blood, which is detected by a blood test.
An IgE blood test that detects higher-than-normal levels of IgE indicates an allergy, but it does not identify what the allergen is.
During a skin prick test, a small amount of the allergen found in hazelnuts is applied under the surface of your skin. If you develop hives (also called wheals) or another reaction, this could indicate an allergy to hazelnuts. A skin test reaction of 3 mm wheal (hive) larger than the negative control is considered to be positive, which means that you are probably allergic to the substance that was injected. The size of the skin test reaction does not correlate with the severity of the clinical reaction
During the oral food challenge, your allergist will eat tiny amounts of the food in increasing doses over a period of time. If those tests are inconclusive, they will recommend an oral food challenge. As a result, a severe reaction is possible, so it must be done under an allergist’s supervision.
Treating Hazelnut Allergy
Treatment for OAS symptoms can be achieved with over-the-counter antihistamines, such as Benadryl.
It is not possible to cure hazelnut allergy. It is only possible to avoid a reaction by not eating hazelnuts.
A food allergy labeling law covers nuts, one of the eight most common allergens in the United States. As a result, packaged foods contain nuts listed on ingredient labels in plain English. The reason nuts are covered is that nuts are one of the eight most common allergens.
On an ingredient label, a hazelnut allergy warning should say “Contains Nuts (hazelnuts).”
You may be prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector (commonly known as EpiPen) by your healthcare provider if you are prone to anaphylactic reactions. When you have a severe reaction, you will need your auto-injector to be available at all times.8
Cookies, chocolate, and pastries commonly contain hazelnuts, one of the most common tree nuts allergies.
A person with oral allergy syndrome typically experiences mild reactions to other substances (like hazelnuts) if they are allergic to pollen. The allergen in hazelnuts can cause more severe reactions in some people, including anaphylaxis, which is an emergency. It is possible to confirm a hazelnut allergy diagnosis with a variety of tests performed by an allergist.