Walnuts are a relatively common source of food allergy. This nut can provoke allergy symptoms that range from the mild to the life-threatening. Various symptoms of allergic reaction to walnuts can occur, from simple indigestion to unconsciousness and difficulty breathing.
Oral allergy syndrome is a mild form of allergic reaction to walnuts. Walnuts are part of the tree nut group, and tree nuts can contain substances that share features with pollen molecules. These pollen-like substances produce allergic symptoms in the mouth and throat.
The interior of the mouth and throat can become itchy, sore and red. A sufferer may experience a sick feeling in the stomach, heartburn or stomach pain. After these localized sensations, the allergy sufferer can then develop symptoms in the rest of the body like a rash, runny nose and an attack of asthma.
More severe allergic reactions than oral allergy syndrome can also occur with walnuts, and tree nuts, as a group, are more likely than most other allergenic foods to cause severe reactions. An allergic reaction to walnuts may get better by itself, or it may require immediate medical attention. Typically, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center in the United States, medically recognized food allergies produce symptoms within two hours of the person eating the food.
Skin reactions include hives, swollen skin and itching. Eczema can be another allergic reaction. Pain in the stomach, vomiting and diarrhea are other possibilities. Some people feel like something that tastes like metal is in their mouth.
Facial features can swell up, along with other parts of the body. The person may feel dizzy. He or she may begin to wheeze or be unable to breathe easily. In some cases of allergic reaction to walnuts, these symptoms are not life-threatening, and occur as low intensity reactions.
When a person suffers a strong reaction to walnuts, then he or she requires medical attention. Especially severe symptoms to be aware of include difficulty breathing, or swelling of the throat. An abnormally fast heartbeat also indicates a severe reaction.
Fainting, or a reaction that results in unconsciousness, can also occur. If a blue tint to the skin or fingernails is visible, it is another sign that emergency treatment may be necessary. Those displaying an allergic reaction to walnuts may also have a sensitivity toward other tree nuts. These include such foods as pecans, hazelnuts and almonds. Sensitivity can occur even if the nuts come from plants that biologically are distant relations.