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swollen fingers picking up a nut

Just Pick the Nuts Out

I was at a local trophy shop, picking up plaques to give as awards for an event. I started chatting with the woman who worked there. I had a wide metal bracelet on and asked her if they can laser etch “seafood allergy” onto a bracelet for me. She said yes, if I get the right kind of bracelet. I have been having a hard time finding a bracelet that says “seafood allergy” because most just say “shellfish allergy”.

As we were talking about food allergies, she said she has food allergies too. Like my Middle Son, she is allergic to tree nuts. Unlike me, her dad didn’t think food allergies were that serious. Her dad told her that she would be fine if he made stuffing with a bread that had nuts in it. He could just pick the nuts out first. She trusted him, and tried some, and promptly swelled up.

And her dad said, “Oooohhhhhh.”

Taking food allergies seriously

I fiercely protect my son and myself from exposure to foods we are allergic to. Like the majority of people with asthma, we  also have allergies.1 We have environmental allergies (grass, pets, flowers, etc) but we also have food allergies. 

Middle Son and I take food allergies seriously because we have had several accidental exposures and then had allergic reactions. And for those of you who have had an allergic reaction from something you ate, you know how scary it is!

But for many people who don’t have food allergies, I don’t think they “get it.”

I am shocked when people say, “Oh, you can just pick the nuts out.” Yeah. That doesn’t work.

Even small exposures can lead to a reaction

Healthline says,

“For people who have a food allergy, even exposure to very small amounts of the problem food can cause an allergic reaction.”

“In more severe cases, a food allergy can cause anaphylaxis. Symptoms, which can come on very quickly, include an itchy rash, swelling of the throat or tongue, shortness of breath and low blood pressure. Some cases can be fatal.”2

Back to the woman at the trophy store. I looked at her wrists and noticed she didn’t have a medical alert bracelet on. “Shouldn’t you be wearing a tree nut allergy bracelet?” I asked her. She said, “Yeah, probably. But I don’t like the old fashioned ones they have at the pharmacy.” I told her that things have come a long way from having to buy a generic medic alert bracelet at the pharmacy – there are a lot of options online. I had her pull up a website on her phone and was hoping she would order a bracelet after I left.

She also said she didn’t have any epinephrine auto-injectors even though her doctor had told her to have two at home and two in her purse. She said she couldn’t afford them when they went up in price. I pulled out my auto-injectors from my purse to show her there are other options, including a generic version.

I told her I had to call my insurance company to see what brands they would cover, and then ask my pharmacy if they could order the epinephrine auto-injectors for me if my doctor prescribed them.

If you have food allergies with your asthma, PLEASE make sure you have a medical alert bracelet and epinephrine auto-injectors.

And, don’t try to just pick the nuts out!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. https://acaai.org/news/have-asthma-you-likely-have-allergy-well
  2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/common-food-allergies#section1

Comments

  • JanetH
    6 months ago

    One of the few conditions that “picking the nuts out” works with is diverticulitis, which of course is not a food allergy.

  • Andrea M Jensen, CHES (R), AE-C author
    6 months ago

    Exactly! It may save your colon to pick the nuts out if you have diverticulitis – but if you have a true food allergy, trace amounts of nuts can still cause anaphylaxis.

  • rjmoon
    6 months ago

    My parents used to just pick the nuts out for my sister. It was the 80’s, there wasn’t the same level of awareness about food allergies, and in retrospect I don’t know that the doctors educated them particularly well. Fortunately nothing ever happened. They were conscientious parents, but they just didn’t know better at the time.

  • Andrea M Jensen, CHES (R), AE-C author
    6 months ago

    I think we all make mistakes as parents, especially when you just don’t know any better. My kids were diagnosed with allergies and asthma 19 years ago, and I REALLY wish I knew back then what I know now! Hats off to your parents for doing the best they could with what they had!

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