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Peanut allergy

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Peanut allergy is the most common form of food allergy. The severity of the allergy differs from one individual to another, for some even a tiny piece of peanut can trigger a severe allergic response, while in others it could be moderate.  Therefore, children and adults who have peanuts allergy need to be utmost careful about not consuming them.


Symptoms of peanut allergy

You can observe the allergic response immediately or wait for some time for the symptoms to appear, which characteristically are

  • Hives, red spots, rashes and swelling over the skin
  • Gastrointestinal problems- stomach ache, diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea
  • Itching in hands and mouth, watery and swollen eyes
  • Tightness and swelling in throat
  • Wheezing and trouble in breathing

Complications of peanut allergy

Peanuts can trigger a severe anaphylaxis reaction, which is certainly life threatening and can even cause death. The response is so intense that your airways get chocked, your blood pressure falls, you faint, and then your heart beat becomes rapid. Failing to obtain emergency help, the individual can collapse.


Why peanut allergy happens

It’s all about your immune system. When your immune system mistakenly identifies peanuts as harmful substance, then it can overreact and incite an immune response. Chemicals like histamines are released which bring about the symptoms.

If you are allergic then consuming peanuts directly or peanut containing foods or even skin contact with peanuts would prove to be dangerous.

When to see a doctor?

If you suspect of all allergy from food (including peanuts and others) and experience unusual symptoms similar to those mentioned above then you must immediately check with your doctor.


Diagnosis of peanut allergy

First your doctor will evaluate the symptoms carefully to sort out whether it is peanut allergy or peanut intolerance (no immune response involved). You will be asked a lot of questions about your food history, for example- what you have been eating since few days, how much you have eaten and if you had ever noticed such reaction in past, etc. Explain your doctor properly.

 A skin prick test would be recommended to rule out for peanut allergy. In this test, a tiny amount of peanut will be placed in forearm and your skin will be pricked gently through the nut particle. Your skin would turn red and itchy if you are allergic. You will also have to undergo a blood test for measuring the amount of antibody present in your blood.

Treatment for peanut allergy

Antihistamines are usually prescribed to manage the symptoms and reduce the allergy. Those who had severe allergic response are given an epinephrine injection, under emergency care.


How to prevent peanut allergy

  • Carry an epinephrine autoinjector with you
  • Yes, lot of people do that after taking permission from doctors. Make sure you know how to use it under emergency and do not merely give a try.
  • Follow the elimination diet – Say No to peanuts
  • Your doctor will let you know what foods to avoid apart from peanut. It’s simple – do not eat peanuts or foods that contain peanut or peanut extracts like cookies, butter, cakes, etc.
  • Do not hesitate to ask when in doubt
  • If you are eating in a restaurant or have gone out for dining at someone’s place then ask if the food contains peanuts or not. So, be sure before eating.
Written by: healthplus24.com team
Date last updated: June 06, 2014