Tree Nut Allergy: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

When you have a tree nut allergy and you eat tree nuts, your body reacts as if these nuts are trying to cause harm. It fights back by setting off an allergic reaction. A mild reaction may include a few raised, red, itchy patches of skin (called hives). A severe reaction may cause hives all over, swelling in the throat, trouble breathing, nausea or vomiting, or fainting. This is called anaphylaxis (say "ANN-uh-fuh-LAK-suss"). It can be deadly.

A good way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid the foods that cause it. Tree nuts include almonds, pecans, cashews, and walnuts. Some of the foods that might contain tree nuts include salads, Asian dishes, baking mixes, and sauces. Flours made from tree nuts are often used in vegan and gluten-free dishes. An allergy doctor or a dietitian may be able to help you understand which foods might be okay and what to avoid. Learn what to do if you have a reaction.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

During a mild reaction

  • Take a nondrowsy antihistamine, such as loratadine (Claritin), as your doctor recommends. Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.

During a severe reaction

  • Give yourself an epinephrine shot. Keep it with you at all times. Make sure it has not expired.
  • Call for emergency help. A serious reaction is an emergency.

To prevent future reactions

  • Avoid the foods that cause problems. And try not to use utensils or cookware that may have been in contact with food that you are allergic to.
  • Teach your family members, coworkers, and friends what to do if you have a severe reaction to a food that you are allergic to.
  • Wear medical alert jewelry that lists your allergies. You can buy this at most drugstores.

When should you call for help?

Give an epinephrine shot if:

  • You think you are having a severe allergic reaction.

After you give an epinephrine shot, call 911, even if you feel better.

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. These may include:
    • Sudden raised, red areas (hives) all over your body.
    • Swelling of the throat, mouth, lips, or tongue.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Passing out (losing consciousness). Or you may feel very lightheaded or suddenly feel weak, confused, or restless.
    • Severe belly pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • You have been given an epinephrine shot, even if you feel better.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as:
    • A rash or hives (raised, red areas on the skin).
    • Itching.
    • Swelling.
    • Mild belly pain or nausea.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.