Written on November 28, 2022 by Theresa Vuskovich, DMD. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
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If you think almond products fill almost every aisle in the grocery store, it's not your imagination. In 2021, more than 12,000 almond products were introduced, accounting for 40% of the total number of new nut products . In 4 of the top 6 global food introduction categories — bakery, bars, dairy, and cereals — almonds rank first . While almonds are the most popular tree nut, they are also one of the most likely to trigger an allergic reaction .
Let's discuss almond allergies, including almond allergy symptoms and management.
Almonds are tree nuts, a category of nut that includes cashews, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, and walnuts . Almonds are the third most common tree nut to cause allergies in the United States . Typically, an almond allergy appears before a child turns 2 years old, but almond allergies can develop later as an adult [4,10]. Due to the widespread use of almonds, having an almond allergy can significantly impact your quality of life.
Compared to other allergies, peanuts and tree nuts are more likely to trigger a severe reaction [4,8]. 70% to 90% of food-related deaths are caused by peanuts and tree nuts, and tree nuts alone generate 18% to 40% of anaphylaxis, the most severe allergic reaction [3,6]. Almond allergies also challenge parents, as children with almond allergies are less likely to grow out of them than children with peanut allergies . Unfortunately, food avoidance is the only way to prevent an allergic reaction .
Now that you understand the basics of almond allergies, let's explore the symptoms. The first step is to differentiate between almond allergy and almond sensitivity. While food sensitivities can cause inconvenient symptoms such as abdominal pain, an almond allergy can cause severe reactions.
The symptoms of food allergies occur due to an increase in immunoglobulin E (IgE), an essential component of your immune system . Your body uses IgE to recruit immune cells to fight foreign substances. Almond allergies occur when the immune system wrongly believes almond proteins can harm your body, so IgE activates cells to fight the proteins, causing allergy symptoms.
Almond allergic reactions can range from mild to severe. An almond allergy can cause the following symptoms .
Allergic rhinitis is a fancy word for irritation of the nose. Allergic rhinitis can include nasal congestion, a runny nose, and sneezing . A wide range of infections and allergies can also cause these symptoms, so determining if your symptoms are caused by an almond allergy is often tricky and requires a consultation with a healthcare provider.
Identifying whether an almond allergy or another factor is causing your nose discomfort is even more challenging if you have seasonal allergies or allergies to common household allergens . Consult your healthcare provider, who will be able to determine if almonds or another factor is creating your nose irritation.
If you have an almond allergy, you may experience a skin reaction shortly after ingesting almonds. Skin reactions may include itching and developing rashes [3,10]. Sometimes a more severe skin condition can develop, such as atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, which causes cracked, itchy, and dry patches on your skin .
Tree nut and almond allergies can cause stomach pain, belching, bloating, cramping, flatulence, diarrhea, and nausea . Stomach cramps could signal a food allergy but can also signal that your body is having difficulty digesting almond fiber . Several digestive conditions may cause these symptoms, so it's important to consult a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Another symptom of an almond allergy is called oral allergy syndrome (OAS), also known as pollen food allergy syndrome (PFS) [3,8]. OAS occurs due to an interaction between eating a combination of foods and having a pollen allergy. A person suffering from pollen allergies may experience OAS after consuming various combinations of vegetables, fruits, spices, and nuts .
OAS usually causes mild symptoms, including itching, tingling, redness, and mild mouth swelling. Approximately 50% to 70% of patients with OAS are sensitive to birch pollen . Children may develop OAS when first exposed to the food combination . Having your child tested for allergens by a healthcare provider may help you avoid OAS.
Anaphylaxis is the most severe and life-threatening symptom of an almond allergy, causing the following conditions within minutes to hours after eating almonds :
If any of these symptoms occur, call 911 immediately.
Managing an almond allergy requires avoiding almonds. Although avoiding almonds is challenging, you can avoid eating them by reading food labels, letting restaurant staff know about your allergy, and telling friends and family about your almond allergy.
Even those aware of their almond allergy may accidentally ingest almonds, so keeping an epinephrine pen on hand is essential. If you are diagnosed with a food allergy, your healthcare provider will prescribe an epinephrine pen to use in case of accidental exposure.
While getting a formal diagnosis requires a healthcare provider, you can learn more about your food allergy through Everlywell's food allergy test. This test detects an increase in IgE when you are exposed to nine different common food allergies.
If you believe you have an almond allergy, consult your healthcare provider.