An allergic reaction to hazelnut is triggered by the immune system. A bodily response involves the production of the antibodies along with various chemicals that instigate the general allergy symptoms. A reaction can be prevented by avoiding exposure to hazelnut and other particles that might initiate a reaction. A doctor must be consulted if an individual is suspected to be allergic to the nut.
Even though it is classified as a tree nut along with pecans, almonds and cashews, they originate from a different and unrelated family. It is important to note that hazelnut is part of the birch family along with filbert and hickory nut. In case the individual is highly sensitive to hazelnuts, he/she might not be allergic to other tree nut families.
Risk for cross-reactions
Aside from developing an allergic reaction after consuming foods that include hazelnuts, a reaction can also be triggered by tree pollen.
Hazelnut allergy is prevalent among those who are sensitive to alder and birch. The reactivity between hazelnut and pollen is called as food-pollen allergy or oral allergy syndrome.
What are the indications?
The signs of hazelnut allergy generally include runny nose, blotching, hives, choking, watery eyes, asthma symptoms, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, itchiness and burning of the face, mouth or throat.
These symptoms typically arise right after eating products that contain hazelnut. The reactions can settle at any time but might progress to a severe reaction or anaphylaxis. This severe reaction involves the whole body and can be deadly unless treated with a shot of epinephrine.
If an individual has been diagnosed with hazelnut allergy, he/she must avoid all foods and beverages that include hazelnuts and other birch nuts.
The nut is typically found in cereals, baked goods, coffee, nougat, liqueur and spreads. Nevertheless, it is not easy to detect, and trace amounts can be present in foods manufactured in facilities that also processes foods containing the nut.