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Old 07-19-2005, 06:54 AM   #1
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Almond Allergies?

I don't know quite where to put this, but am curious. A couple of months ago, we ran into a friend ... and his mouth was swollen. We asked what happened; he replied that he'd eaten an almond. He had NEVER had an allergic reaction to them before. Then a couple of days ago, we noticed another friend had very swollen lips and mouth area, and asked what was wrong. He didn't know, but his throat was swelling as well. We couldn't help but notice that we were all eating a quiche that had slivered almonds on top. I know this sounds odd, but is it possible that almonds from some particular part of the world might be more allergenic than others? Both these men have always eaten the nuts and aren't particularly, usually sensitive.

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Old 07-19-2005, 07:18 AM   #2
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It is my understanding that you need to be exposed to an allergen several times before you start to react to it. I believe that is because your body needs time to produce the histamines when it sees the foreign thingy. (Pretty scientific description there!)

I wonder if the almonds had been sprayed or treated with some chemical. Weird. Make sure you carry Benadryl the next time you go out with fthose friends.
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Old 07-19-2005, 05:40 PM   #3
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Alix is right - you have to be exposed to an allergen more than once to have a reaction - but it is very unusual for an adult to suddenly develop an allergy to something they've been eating for years without problems. Occasionally, sliced peanuts are treated with almond flavour and used as a cheap 'alternative' to real almonds, but if your friends are not allergic to peanuts, then this wouldn't cause a problem either.

I would agree with Alix that it may be something they are treating the nuts with - some chemical. In any case, allergic reactions can be very unpredictable in their severity - you could have a mild reaction one time, and a very severe reaction the next. With some people the severity of a reaction increases if they have been exercising just previously, or during the reaction. With this unpredictability, and the obvious danger of having your friends throat swell - they should really consult an allergist and determine what is causing it.

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Old 07-19-2005, 05:41 PM   #4
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We did!!! One friend who was at our group brunch went into her purse and popped out a couple for him! It just strikes me as strange that two very different people in very different circumstances had similar reactions. I also wonder about spraying, especially in foreign countries that don't have the same standards our country does, so was curious if this has happened to others. As I said, both men have always eaten almonds and never had reactions to them.
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Old 07-19-2005, 06:02 PM   #5
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Allergies are sometime very hard to understand. We have a friend who grew up eating all types of fish and shellfish and a couple of years ago developed an allergy so severe he had to be hospitalized. Nothing has changed that he knew of and the doctors couldn't explain why it happened, but he can no longer eat any fish or shellfish. His meds hadn't changed he certainly misses what was a big part of his diet for many years.
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Old 07-19-2005, 08:06 PM   #6
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it is very unusual for an adult to suddenly develop an allergy to something they've been eating for years without problems

i don't think that's true. i was told by my doctor that you can develope allergies at any given time.
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Old 07-19-2005, 08:38 PM   #7
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Some people are born with allergies - some develop them later in life. People who are allergic to peanuts are more prone to also be allergic to tree nuts than the inverse. But, there is no set rule. While it is ironic that you would know two people who developed a nut allergy in a short period of time - it's not a staggering statistical improbability.

As for the sources and type of almonds - there are two types of almonds, sweet almonds and bitter almonds. The almonds that we eat in the US are sweet almonds almost certainly from California. Bitter almonds found in other parts of the world are illegal to import into the US (if I remember the import restrictions correctly) because they contain a very potent poison amygdalin, which when mixed with the enzymes in saliva create hydrocyanic acid, which causes death by cyanide poisoning - a lethal does is only 20 almonds for an adult, less in children. Bitter almonds are used in the US for making almond extracts because the amygdalin is removed during processing.

As for it being a reaction to chemicals used in the field such as pestacide sprays ... this is very unlikely - as it's a seed inside a nut inside a fruit. The only chemical I can think of that they might be treated with during processing would be the oil used in blanching them - if they were blanched nuts. Ironically, this could be coconut or peanut oil, or a blend, which can also cause allergic reactions for people who are sensative/allergic to tree nuts.

I would stronly suggest your friends stop eating all nuts and talk to their doctor - who can give them a referral to an allergist who can test them. I couldn't begin to count the number of times I've seen patients show up in the ER with severe allergic reactions to something they had eaten all of their lives without a problem.

Allergies are funny - you can outgrow them - or you can develop them.
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Old 07-19-2005, 10:27 PM   #8
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My wife has a fairly mild allergy to almonds, but her sister has a quite pronounced reaction to them. My wife can eat a piece of almond toffee with no noticeable effect, but a handful of plain almonds can make her sick. Her sister has to avoid anything that has even been close to an almond.
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