Severe Nut Allergies: The Signs

All three of my children have severe nut allergies. Between them, they are allergic to peanuts, cashews, walnuts and pistachio nuts. They are also allergic to sesame seeds, chickpeas and hay. Their reactions vary from anaphylactic to rashes. We carry an EpiPen and Zyrtec with us everywhere.

As our children are still quite young, we find we can monitor much of what they eat, but as they get older it gets trickier. We are the annoying parents who walk into a room and ask for nuts to be removed from tables or pesto dips to be put out of reach. We ask for the teacher to put notes in school diaries to remind other parents not to let their kids bring nuts to school. We hover at birthday parties and never let our kids eat things without first scanning the ingredients list.

We talk a lot to our children, about the importance of not sharing food. We educate them about what to look out for, who to ask for help if they feel the signs of a reaction and how it’s very important to always ask an adult if there are nuts in certain foods. We can not always be there watching over them and realise it is no-one else’s responsibility to look after what our kids put in their mouth except ours.

We are very careful what restaurants we go to and never bring nuts into the house. And if we do eat nuts, we wash our mouths and hands with soapy water.

Some may call us paranoid, but we have to be. Our children could die if they eat the wrong food.

Consequently, we have seen many different reactions to food allergies. These include:

  • Hives/red raised welts around the mouth.
  • A dry cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fast heartbeat or pulse
  • Vomiting
  • Turning pale and limp
  • A red rash over the body, hands or/and mouth.
  • Red, itchy eyes.
  • Runny nose and sneezing
  • Swollen lips and/or tongue
  • Itchy mouth or/and body

We’ve done many dashes to hospital. We’ve spent much time worrying. And we’ve anxiously sat in doctors’ waiting rooms while allergy skin tests have been conducted. We wish our children didn’t have to live with allergies, but they do.

So if someone you know, or you come across someone in difficulty, ring an ambulance. If they have an EpiPen then administer it immediately. Allergic reactions can be fatal. Always seek medical assistance.

Allergic reactions can occur hours after coming into contact with things you’re allergic to and reactions can also reoccur hours after treatment. When in doubt, always talk to a medical professional. And if you don’t know how to use an EpiPen – then learn. You could save a life one day.

For more information on allergies and anaphylaxis go to this website: