Allergies are abnormal responses of the human immune system to harmless substances in our environment. The allergic response triggered in the body can range anywhere from a mild runny nose, like that experienced in allergic rhinitis (hay fever
), all the way to a severe life threatening shock reaction called anaphylaxis that some people experience in response to certain foods or medications. Peanut, tree nut, and seed allergies are among some of the most common food allergies in both children and adults.
The prevalence of these types of allergies varies substantially world wide, but the highest rates are in western countries where approximately 1-2% of people have peanut, tree nut, and seed allergies. Of these groups, peanut allergy is the most common. Among tree nut allergies, walnuts are the most common allergen, followed by cashews and almonds. In one study, about one third of patients with peanut allergies had coexisting tree nut allergies and, similarly, about one third of people with tree nut allergies were found to have coexisting peanut allergies. Nut allergies can be very severe and in many people life threatening anaphylactic reactions are not uncommon. It would be advisable to avoid contact with all peanuts, tree nuts and seeds when you are planning to be in contact with anyone who has a nut allergy.
The best way to determine if your boyfriend's allergy is to peanuts alone or to tree nuts as well would to recommend that he set up an appointment to see an allergist and be re-evaluated. During the consultation the allergist may be able to do skin testing to determine what foods and nuts he is allergic to and give you accurate information about what foods should be avoided and what foods are likely to be safe.