Peanut allergy is a form of food allergy where a person’s body system reacts to peanuts. It is different from all other tree nut allergies, with peanuts being a part of the legume family and not true nuts.
A peanut allergy is an allergy that occurs when a person’s body mistakenly identifies peanuts as harmful substances.
When you eat food-containing peanuts or peanuts, your immune system can overreact, causing a series of severe to life-threatening responses.
Symptoms of peanut allergy
Allergic hypersensitivity to peanuts usually occurs within minutes after exposure. Symptoms of peanut allergy can be triggered from mild to severe.
Peanut allergy signs and symptoms can include:
- Skin reactions, such as redness, hives or swelling
- itching or tingling in or around the mouth and throat
- Digestive problems, such as stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting or nausea
- Tightening of the throat
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
- Runny nose
- Itchy eyes
Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening, severe allergic response from the immune system. It can happen within seconds or minutes of exposure to something you’re allergic to, such as peanuts or bee stings.
Peanut allergy is one of the typical causes of food-originating anaphylaxis. This medical condition requires medication such as epinephrine (adrenaline), autoinjector (EpiPen or Auvi-Q), and a trip to the intensive care unit.
Signs and symptoms of Anaphylaxismay include;
- Airway blockage
- Inflammation of the throat that makes it difficult to breathe and swallow
- A severe drop in blood pressure (shock)
- Rapid pulse
- Dizziness, light-headedness or loss of consciousness
- Vomiting and diarrhea
A person’s body undergoes an allergic reaction when the immune system overreacts and releases chemicals into your blood system. These chemicals in the body system can affect different tissues in the body, such as the nose, airways, skin, eyes, blood vessels, lungs, and intestinal tracts. It’s unclear why peanuts trigger this response in some people.
Peanuts exposure can occur in various forms:
- Direct contact: Eating peanut-containing foods or peanuts is the most common cause of peanut allergy. An allergic reaction could be triggered if the skin has direct contact with peanuts.
- Cross-contact: This is the unintentional introduction of peanuts into a particular product. It’s generally the outcome of food being unprotected from peanuts during handling and processing.
- Inhalation: If you inhale peanut-containing dust or aerosols, from a source such as peanut cooking oil or peanut flour, an allergic may occur.
Peanut allergy risks factor
The reason why some people develop allergies while others don’t isn’t clear. However, certain people with risk factors have a great possibility of developing peanut allergy.
Peanut allergy risk factors may include:
- Age: Food allergies are most common in developing children, most especially infants and toddlers. At the stage of developing, their digestive system matures, and their body is less likely to react to food that stimulates allergies.
- Past allergy to peanuts: Some children with peanut allergy outgrow it. Nevertheless, even if you appear to have developed beyond peanut allergy, relapses aren’t uncommon.
- Other allergies: Allergy to one food may lead to the state of becoming allergic to another. Similarly, other allergies, which include hay fever, also increases the chances of having a food allergy.
- Family members with allergies: You’re at elevated risk of peanut allergy if other allergies, especially when other forms of food allergy, are common in your family. This might be due to the gene passed down from predecessor who had an allergy.
- Atopic dermatitis: Some people with skin health problems such as atopic dermatitis (eczema), can also develop food allergies such as peanut allergy.
To make a diagnosis about a peanut allergy, your doctor will start with physical history and a medical exam. Your doctor may also make inquiries about allergies in your family, especially siblings with food allergies.
Your doctor may also consider if your allergies are caused by things like an irritation to an insect sting, medicines, food poisoning, or exposure of unknown substances to the skin.
Your doctor may inform you to try an oral food allergy challenge or an elimination diet, or both for clearer confirmation.
- In an elimination diet, you bypass eating foods that may initiate an allergic reaction and see if your symptoms persist or not. If symptoms relapse when you consume the food again, your doctor can verify your food allergy. The elimination diet varies from 2 to 8 weeks
- In an oral food allergy challenge, you consume a variety of foods that may or may not be the origin of the allergic hypersensitivity. Your doctor would observe to see if and when a reaction develops. This test is contemplated as the best way to determine a food allergy
You may also undergo allergy tests, such as blood tests or skin tests. These are necessary in deciding what foods you are allergic to after you have been diagnosed with having a food allergy.
If you unintentionally eat a peanut, following your doctor’s instructions is the best solution. For a mild condition, an antihistamine may be taken to reduce the symptoms. Mild symptoms may include an itchy or sneezing or runny nose, an itchy mouth, a few hives or mild itching, and stomach discomfort or mild nausea.
If you have had a severe condition before, a medicine called epinephrine may be prescribed to your doctor. If you have multiple symptoms focused on more than one part of the body, such as an itchy mouth and mild nausea, ensure you get an epinephrine shot.
If you think you have an allergy reaction to a particular or some food, please do the following:
- Do not belittle the seriousness of the problem. It is best to get help!
- Even after if you feel better after giving yourself the shot, symptoms of anaphylaxis can relapse or unexpectedly appear hours later. You need to be in a hospital to be observed for several hours after your symptoms go away.