Any nut can create an allergic response, and one of the more serious is the cashew. Along with other tree nuts, like almond and walnut, cashew is a common nut allergy among children and adults. For a person who is severely allergic, even the smallest hint of cashew can cause a life-threatening response.

As you might suspect, people with a cashew allergy are likely to also have a pistachio allergy because they are related. Cashew does not tend to be a stand-alone allergy; it is most often one of many allergies.

Cashew can be hidden in many ethnic foods. They are also used as a substitute for the more expensive pistachio and pine nut. Kitchens may not want to admit they have substituted, so it is best to stay away from any product that you cannot be certain of.

Hives and Swelling

Two of the most common symptoms of a cashew allergy are hives and swelling. Even for a mild allergy, there may be itching or tingling in or around the mouth within just a few minutes of eating or touching cashew. Raised, itchy welts of various size can appear on the skin’s surface. Swelling below the surface of the skin, called angioedema, may also occur. These symptoms can last for a couple of days.

Gastrointestinal Symptoms

There may be stomach cramps or vomiting immediately after eating cashew as the body tries to rid itself of the allergen. Later, there may be diarrhea, projectile vomiting, difficulty swallowing or general nausea. A swollen tongue could indicate greater swelling all along the digestive tract.

Respiratory Problems

Hay fever or asthma may occur with airborne cashew nut allergens. A runny, stuffy nose and coughing are common when the nasal passages swell. Wheezing can be a sign of swollen tissue and constricted airways. Severe symptoms include shortness of breath, tightening of the chest and chest pain.


The most severe reaction would include rapid pulse, swelling of the throat that prevents breathing, constriction of the airways, fainting, lightheadedness, and loss of consciousness. If anaphylaxis occurs, medical attention is needed immediately.

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