If you develop swollen lips after eating raw almonds, you may have oral allergy syndrome, also known as OAS, an allergic reaction that occurs as a cross-reaction to another substance, in this case, birch tree pollen. You may also develop swollen lips if you have a tree nut allergy. Almonds are considered tree nuts although they actually belong to the Rosaceae family, which includes a number of fruits. If you develop swollen lips while eating raw almonds, stop eating them immediately and notify your medical practitioner.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Oral allergy syndrome develops when you have an allergy to a substance such as birch tree pollen. In 25 percent of cases, people who develop OAS reactions to peaches may also react to almonds, according to Food-Info, a website associated with Wageningen University in The Netherlands. Similar proteins in raw almonds can also trigger an allergic reaction. Allergies to raw almonds themselves occur less frequently than other nut allergies. Allergies happen when your body develops antibodies to a substance. The body releases histamines in response to the allergic reaction; histamines produce the allergy symptoms. Allergic reactions often worsen each time you come in contact with a substance.
- Oral allergy syndrome develops when you have an allergy to a substance such as birch tree pollen.
Almond Butter Allergy
In addition to swollen lips, oral allergy syndrome can cause:
- tingling in the mouth or lips
- itching in the lips or throat
- tongue swelling
- watery eyes
Severe reactions such as
- abdominal pain
- difficulty breathing
- circulatory collapse can occur in anaphylaxis
Just touching the nut may cause rash, itching or swelling of the skin.
For mild reactions, an oral antihistamine over-the-counter medication such as diphenhydramine may be enough to quell the histamine response. For severe reactions, an injection of epinephrine may be needed to reduce the histamine response.
Swollen Throat Allergy
If you have severe allergic reactions to raw almonds, always carry injectable epinephrine. Learn to read food labels carefully for sources of almonds in foods and avoid all tree nuts unless allergy testing has proven that you’re not allergic to them 2. In at least one case reported on Food-Info, curry ingestion triggered an almond allergic reaction 2. Some foods that trigger OAS cause a reaction only when eaten in raw form; heat-processed almonds may not cause a reaction, according to Food-Info, but do not try to eat them without your doctor’s approval. ; June 2000').
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- Allergy and Asthma Information Association: Oral Allergy Syndrome; Dr. Anthony Ham Pong, M.B.; June 2000
- Food-Info: Almond Allergy
- Atkinson, FS, Foster-Powell, K, Brand-Miller, JC.International tables of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2008.Diabetes Care. 2008;31(12):2281-2283. doi:10.2337/dc08-1239
- National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recommended dietary allowances and adequate intakes, elements.
- Aune D, Keum N, Giovannucci E, et al. Nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, all-cause an cause-specific mortality: A systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. BMC Med. 2016;14(1):207. doi:10.1186/s12916-016-0730-3
- Alasalvar C, Bolling BW. Review of nut phytochemicals, fat-soluble bioactives, antioxidant components and health effects. Br J Nutr. 2015;113 Suppl 2:S68-78. doi:10.1017/S0007114514003729
- Veronese N, Watutantrige-Fernando S, Luchini C, et al. Effect of magnesium supplementation on glucose metabolism in people with or at risk of diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of double-blind randomized controlled trials. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2016;70(12):1354-1359. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2016.154
- American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Oral Allergy Syndrome. Updated March 2019.
A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.