Children and adults who are unable to identify the tree nuts and peanuts that cause allergic reactions in them are highly susceptible to life-threatening allergic reactions. Peanut and tree nut allergy is common to over 3 million people in the United States.

In a survey carried out by Dr. Todd L. Hostetler and Dr. Bryan Martin, at the Ohio State University Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, 1105 children and adults participated. Results from this study were presented in Phoenix this week at the annual conference convened by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Participants were shown a nut display and asked to identify the nuts. The display included peanuts and 19 forms of tree nuts. Nut allergy was prevalent in less than 3% of the group. Also 20 parents who participated in the study had children with nut allergies.

The most disturbing result from this study was neither group (children and adults) could accurately identify all forms of nuts. All the participants identified 44.2% of nuts without errors. Half of populations with recorded allergies were able to identify all the forms of allergic nuts. 73% of parents were successful in identifying the nuts causing allergic reactions in their child. A low 1.9% (21 participants) correctly identified all 19 nuts.

A peanut in its shell and when taken out of the shell was identified by 95% of the group but only 80.5% were able to accurately identify a peanut. Correct detection of the hazelnut happened only in 16% of the group irrespective of whether the nut was inside its shell or not.

Nut allergies result in death from anaphylaxis. Patients with nut allergies should strictly avoid eating nuts. They should also refrain from touching products exposed to nuts.

Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency defined by the sudden and severe allergic reaction occurring due to release of chemicals called Histamines in sensitive people. Histamines cause blood vessels to dilate and constrict the lung airways.

Loss of consciousness, difficulty in breathing, speaking and swallowing has been reported during Anaphylaxis. Tree nuts are a collective term used for almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, coconuts, pecans, cashews and pistachios.