Peanut Allergy is a type of food allergy and one of the most common causative factors for severe allergic reactions. This type of allergy varies from person to person, while in some it causes itching and rashes, for others it can lead to severe anaphylactic shock or reaction. This type of food allergy is quite common in children than adults and must be dealt with urgency even if it is mild to prevent a major reaction later in life. While some people grow out of it, others need to avoid peanuts for life. Also Read: Anaphylaxis: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Peanut allergy usually occurs when the body’s immune system assumes the peanut proteins as an external microbial agent or something harmful releasing chemicals into the bloodstream to fight the peanut protein. This over-production of symptom-causing chemicals in the bloodstream sends the body into a shock. This peanut exposure or shock can happen due to the following ways:
The most common way to get peanut allergy is by directly eating peanuts or consuming peanut-containing foods or sometimes even if one touches the peanuts.
Indirect/ Cross Contact:
This is an unintentional addition of peanuts or peanut dust into an unrelated product. In case if some food while processing comes into contact with peanut dust or if a food is stored in a peanut jar. This type of situation can lead to cross-contact peanut allergy.
An allergic reaction may occur if somehow a person inhales peanut dust or aerosols containing peanuts, from a source such as peanut flour or from cooking sprays containing peanut oil.
It is unclear as to why certain people get this type of food allergy while others don’t. These few risk factors increase the chances of a person into getting peanut allergy.
Age: Peanut allergies are more commonly noticed in children than in adults since while growing up, the digestive system matures and reacts less to allergens.
Past Peanut Allergy: Although most children outgrow the allergy after some years, others might have a relapse of the allergic condition. Hence a past allergy to peanuts aggravates the risk.
Allergies Of Family Members: If parents or family members have a tendency of some kind of allergy, especially food allergies, it aggravates the chances of getting a peanut allergy for the child. Also Read: Food Allergies: Know The Causes and Symptoms
Other allergies: People allergic to other foods or allergens have an increased risk of developing peanut allergy too.
Skin Conditions: Certain people diagnosed with Atopic dermatitis (or eczema), a type of skin condition also have a tendency of developing food allergy specially to peanuts.
Allergic reactions due to peanuts happen within seconds or minutes of getting exposed to the peanut. These common signs and symptoms include:
Initial Mild And Moderate Symptoms
- Skin reactions, such as hives, redness or swelling
- Itching or tingling in or around the mouth and throat
- Tightening of the throat
- Nausea or vomiting
- Stomach cramps
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Runny nose
- Swollen lips and mouth
- Swollen limbs and neck
If a person having a sudden reaction is not treated immediately, the mild symptoms can develop within minutes into more severe conditions leading to anaphylactic shock. The symptoms include:
Severe Or Anaphylaxis Reaction
- Swollen throat
- Trouble in breathing
- Sudden drop in blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
- Racing pulse
Diagnosis And Treatment
On noticing any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, immediately rush to a nearby hospital or clinic to get treated at the earliest. The doctor usually acknowledges the particular allergen the patient was exposed to. He may also conduct some diagnostics including:
Food diary: The doctor may want to know the types of food eaten by the patient
Blood Test: To ascertain the level of tryptase that usually gets elevated on the onset of anaphylaxis or checks the presence of allergy-type antibodies in the bloodstream, known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies.
Allergic Skin Test: To analyse the type of allergen, the doctor usually puts an allergic food on the hand and then pricks the skin using a needle to find out whether the person develops any kind of rash or skin bump due to it.
The common treatment procedure is to eliminate peanuts or any other foods that cause allergy from the daily diet. Additionally, it also includes anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the inflammation, oxygen supply to support breathing and other medicines to reduce the body’s allergic response. In certain cases, the doctor may also perform desensitization or oral immunotherapy to reduce the risk of severe reactions, including anaphylaxis.