During pecan allergy, the immune system reacts to the proteins present in pecans and triggers symptoms such as shortness of breath, hives, vomiting, swollen throat and dizziness. There are some individuals who were diagnosed with pecan allergy.
Food allergies usually affect young children more than the adults. Most of these allergies are triggered by common allergens such as eggs, cow’s milk, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, fish, wheat and shellfish. Even though children typically outgrow most of these allergies, an allergy to tree nuts and peanuts are less frequently outgrown and resolves in some cases. In addition, a family history of food allergies increases the risk that the individual will develop food allergy as well, but not necessarily to the same food.
The symptoms of pecan allergy can vary from mild to life-threatening. Most of the symptoms usually develop within 1 hour after ingestion of a pecan or products that contain pecan. The usual symptoms include the following:
- Hives, itchiness and swelling
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of consciousness
Not all of these symptoms manifest during a reaction and some individuals can experience skin reactions such as swelling or hives. It is vital to bear in mind that the more mild skin reactions can progress to systemic symptoms and a mild reaction from a single exposure does not necessarily mean that the next reaction is also mild.
A diagnosis of pecan allergy is carried out by an allergist. Initially, a history is taken to determine if the symptoms appear consistent with an immune-mediated reaction. If the doctor feels that the symptoms are strikingly similar to an allergy, a skin prick test is performed.
During a skin prick test, it involves scratching of the skin surface using the allergenic protein of the pecan and observing a reaction. As for a blood test, it measures the level of allergic response to the pecan protein. Even though these tests are beneficial in determining if pecan allergy is present, the severity of a skin reaction is not useful in determining how severe the symptoms linked to an exposure will be.
An important part of treatment for the symptoms of pecan allergy is avoidance. Even though it can be difficult since pecans are found in unexpected food sources such as sauces, vegetarian products, pie crust, seasonings, pasta and fish dishes. In addition, an individual with pecan allergy is advised to avoid all tree nuts and peanuts due to the risk for cross-contamination in the processing plant.
If unintentional exposure occurs, an antihistamine and injectable epinephrine can be used to reverse the reaction and minimize the symptoms. An individual with pecan allergy must have these medications on hand at all times.
During an allergic reaction, the individual must be taken to the nearest emergency department right away even if the symptoms improved with available treatment. Even though epinephrine can reverse the symptoms momentarily, some can develop symptoms once it wears off. Individuals who have pecan allergy must wear a medical alert bracelet to inform medical personnel in case of emergencies.