A nut intolerance is very different than an allergy. In an allergy, the body’s autoimmune system’s response to substances it considers a harmful antigen. In a food allergy the body mistakes certain proteins in food as harmful and creates an inflammatory response. In a food intolerance, rather than the offensive food setting off an autoimmune response, instead it usually just disrupts or upsets the digestive tract. The common nut intolerances are peanuts and tree nuts (such as walnuts, pecans, almonds).
Signs and symptoms of a nut intolerance include: nausea, stomach pain, gas, cramps, bloating, vomiting, diarrhea, heartburn, headaches, and gastric irritability. Which are not to be confused with the more serious signs of an allergic reaction such as: hives, rash, shortness of breath, chest pain, and anaphylaxis.
Unlike an allergy an intolerance is the result of the body’s inability to digest a food properly—in this case, nuts. This may be caused by a change in diet or introduction of new food. Because a nut intolerance is a Non-IgE-mediated food hypersensitivity, it is often chronic and harder to diagnose than a food allergy. Indeed, some people with a food intolerance never are diagnosed with a specific cause.
Some studies have shown the food intolerances can develop during pregnancy, though there is no conclusive evidence to prove that this is the case.
Management of nut intolerance usually involves eliminating the offensive nut from the diet. For many sufferers, this is an adequate step and does not require any additional medical assistance. However, if more assistance is needed, a visit to the patient’s primary care physician will allow the doctor to diagnose and help manage symptoms. With abstinence from the offending food, the symptoms should completely disappear.
The prognosis is usually good, provided that the patient follows the recommended guidelines for management and carefully read the ingredients of processed foods. With practice, the avoidance of these foods becomes easier and the sufferer will cease to be bothered by the intolerance as long as the food is not reintroduced into the diet.
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