Study: Nut allergic airline passengers take range of precautions

peanuts_shelled-2_blogTo someone with peanut allergies, the staple in-flight snack many airlines offer could be cause for serious concern.

Although the debate is ongoing about how peanut and tree nut allergic people could be affected by peanut or tree nut dust on airplanes derived from their neighbors’ snacks, many with allergies take a proactive route.

In a study recently published in the The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, researchers found about 69 percent of respondents requested an accommodation for their peanut or tree nut allergy before their flights.

The researchers studied the survey answers of 3,273 respondents who had children with peanut or tree nut allergies or had the allergies themselves from 11 countries that flew internationally. Of those, 349 reported having suffered an allergic reaction in-flight. Many allergic passengers took precautions such as wiping their tray tables, bringing their own meals, avoiding airline blankets and pillows and requesting a buffer zone between them and those consuming peanuts or tree nuts, according to the study.

Currently, federal law prohibits restriction of in-flight nut consumption rules pending a scientific study that proves dust from peanuts or tree nuts circulates and causes allergic reactions, The New York Times notes.

Roughly 1 to 2 percent of people in Westernized nations has a peanut or tree nut allergy, the study reports. In the U.S., an estimated 3.5 to 4 percent of adults and 6 to 8 percent of children have food allergies and these numbers are only increasing, according to the latest research.

Roughly 90 percent of all food allergic reactions are caused by eight foods: peanuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, crustaceans, fish and tree nuts, such as hazelnuts and walnuts. Of those, peanuts are the leading cause of severe allergic reactions caused by food.

If a person with food allergies eats an allergenic food or food containing even miniscule amounts of allergenic protein, it may trigger an immune response. These allergic reactions can range from mild symptoms, such as hives, to severe gastrointestinal and respiratory distress, including throat swelling and difficulty breathing.

The most severe reaction is anaphylactic shock, which can carry the symptoms of an allergic reaction, but is coupled with a dangerous drop in blood pressure. Anaphylactic shock can be fatal.

To read the full study, click here.

To read the New York Times article, click here.

For more on food allergies from Neogen blog, click here.

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