What is Pecan Allergy?
Pecan is essentially a tree nut grown extensively in the United States. Hypersensitivity to this particular nut is a widely recognized form of tree nut allergy.
This particular allergy affects around 1.2% of the American population according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
The number of people in the US who report to being allergic to some type of tree nuts is estimated to be around 3 million. People who are allergic to the nut discussed are also found to be allergic to other nuts like peanuts, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts etc. However, an allergy sufferer could very well be sensitive to one particular nut also.
What causes pecan allergy?
The otherwise harmless protein is pecan is perceived by the body as a threat. The bodyâ€™s immune system responds by producing special antibodies known as IgE antibodies. These antibodies binds with the protein molecules and produces various allergy symptoms. When these antibodies enter the blood stream the body reacts by producing something called histamine from the mast cells of the gut, skin and pharynx. Releasing histamine is an auto immune response of the body and produces the associated symptoms.
Symptoms of the Hypersensitivity
- Symptoms generally follow immediately after taking the nut or any food containing the nut.
- Oral allergy symptoms like redness, swelling and burning sensation in the lips, mouth and pharynx.
- Skin rashes which give rise to itchy, red, bumps on the skin. These welts appear in clusters with well defined borders. This condition is often known as Hives and the rash may migrate to different body parts and may last up to 24 hours. Eczema is a skin condition which can also occur due to nut allergies. Fluid filled blisters are formed on the skin of the face and arms. The blisters can crack open exposing the infectious fluid to other body parts and causing secondary infections.
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, gas and indigestion may occur.
- Runny nose, watery red eyes, chest congestion etc can prevail.
- Inflamed sinuses may bring about headaches and sneezing.
- In extreme cases, anaphylaxis can occur. In this situation, shortness of breath due to inflamed lungs and airways, dizziness, wheezing, coughing and low blood pressure may bring in a medical emergency.
Prevention of Pecan Allergy
- In milder allergies, roasting and processing the nut before eating reduces allergy symptoms.
- However, in proven allergies to the nut eliminating it absolutely from the diet is the only option.
- Check labels well. A lot of other foods are also processed in facilities which process the nut.In that case, a little trace of the nut may wreck havoc too.
- In extreme anaphylaxis, an emergency shot of epinephrine should be administered.
- Symptoms can also be well managed with antihistamines and other corticosteroids.
Skin prick, patch and blood tests may be done to detect it. It is extremely essential to isolate the particular nuts causing allergies in case of an individual who is allergic to a lot of tree nuts for ensuring effective treatment of the symptoms.