Peanut Allergy

What is a Peanut Allergy?

Peanut allergies are at an all-time high, and the cause is not clear. One theory points to immune system sensitivity. Allergens in general are not as great of a threat due in part to modern medicine and germ elimination practices.

The immune system may overreact because of a lack of use. Also, peanuts are comprised of several proteins that other foods simply do not have. The immune system may consider their unique structure a threat. In addition, children who lack vitamin D may be at greater risk for peanut allergies.

Because of video games and other popular forms of indoor entertainment, kids are not playing outside as often as they did. Early indirect exposure may also be to blame. Eighty percent of kids with peanut allergies have a reaction the first time they eat peanuts or peanut products. It is a life-threatening condition that requires extreme caution when it comes to exposure and emergency preparedness.

What are the Symptoms of Peanut Allergy?

Even the tiniest particles and indirect exposure can cause anaphylactic shock in those with a peanut allergy. When the immune system considers peanuts a threat, potentially deadly chemicals are quickly released.

Signs of an allergic reaction to peanuts may include:

  • Nasal discharge
  • Skin reactions that may include redness, rash and/or inflammation
  • Tingly sensation or itchiness near or in the mouth and/or throat
  • Queasiness and/or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Narrowing of the throat
  • Breathlessness
  • Wheezing

Anaphylaxis can occur within seconds or mere minutes. Signs of anaphylactic shock as a result of peanut exposure may include:

  • Tightening of the airways
  • Throat swelling
  • Sudden low blood pressure (symptom of shock)
  • Fast pulse
  • Faintness
  • Passing out

How is Peanut Allergy Treated?

Children can outgrow peanut allergies, but peanuts and all peanut products must be eliminated to prevent a potentially life-threating reaction. It is important to always carry an epinephrine injector in the event of a severe allergic reaction to peanuts. If a serious allergic reaction occurs, administer the epinephrine according to directions, and seek emergency medical help.

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Last Reviewed:
October 07, 2016
Last Updated:
August 24, 2017