Allergic reactions to peanuts are triggered within mins of consumption. Some symptoms may be subtle and need careful attention to be identified – tingling or itching around the mouth or throat, nausea, a runny nose, and hives. A more severe anaphylactic reaction involves wheezing, swollen lips or tongue, coughing, breathlessness, dizziness, a drop in blood pressure, etc.
Whether you’re nibbling them at the bar, munching a handful before a game, or slathering them as butter on your toast, peanuts are undoubtedly a popular snack. Unfortunately, peanuts are also among the most common allergy-causing foods. Research findings from a 2010 study indicated that of all food allergies in children, the peanut is the most prevalent allergen.1 Another study reported that over 3 million Americans had peanut allergy and called it a significant health concern.2
Although one among many allergies known to man, peanut allergy evokes a more intense response in both clinicians and the general public. Its ubiquitous presence and the severity of the reaction it causes are the main reasons for this angst. Peanut allergy is characterized by more severe symptoms than other food allergies even if the contact is minimal. It can also cause a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that requires immediate treatment (anaphylaxis).
When someone who is allergic to peanuts consumes them, the immune system identifies the proteins in these as harmful and attempts to eliminate them with a fierce onslaught using antibodies. This causes an allergic reaction, in which various chemicals like histamine are released in the body. The allergy symptoms can vary from mild to severe depending on individual body response. The symptom may begin with a less severe reaction and can then quickly worsen. If not treated quickly, the resulting anaphylaxis can be fatal.
What To Look Out For
An allergic reaction to peanuts will usually become obvious within minutes of contact. However, some symptoms can be quite subtle, so it is important to identify these symptoms quickly.
Mild symptoms can include:
- an itching or tingling sensation in or around the mouth or throat
- a runny or congested nose
- itchy skin or hives, which may appear as small spots or large welts
Peanut allergies can also cause a severe reaction called anaphylaxis, the symptoms of which include:
- wheezing or trouble breathing
- coughing, hoarseness, or throat tightness
- stomach ache, vomiting, or diarrhea
- itchy, watery, or swollen eyes
- hives or red spots
- swollen lips or tongue
- swelling of the throat that makes it difficult to breathe
- severe drop in blood pressure (shock)
- constriction of the airways
- rapid pulse
- dizziness, light-headedness, or loss of consciousness
There are several attributes that increase the likelihood of peanut allergy in an individual.
Food allergies such as peanut allergy are most common in children, especially toddlers and infants. Many people see their symptoms becoming less serious as they grow older. The digestive system matures as one grows older, so your body is less likely to react to food that triggers allergies. However, if you are allergic to peanuts, chances are you’ll have the allergy lifelong. Only about 20 percent of individuals outgrow it.3
If food allergies are common in your family, you may be at increased risk of peanut allergy.
Previous History Or Other Allergies
Peanut allergy can reoccur even if you have outgrown it. Also, if you are already suffering from other types of allergy such as hay fever, you may be at increased risk of developing an allergy to peanuts.
People having a skin condition such as eczema may also have an increased risk of developing a food allergy such as peanut allergy.
Trace amounts of peanut can cause an allergic reaction. The most common cause of peanut allergy is eating peanuts or foods containing peanuts. Though direct skin contact with peanuts can also trigger an allergic reaction, it is less likely to be severe.
Some people experience an allergic reaction on accidentally inhaling dust or aerosols with peanut components. The source could even be peanut oil cooking spray or peanut flour.
Consuming foods which have been exposed to peanuts during processing or handling can trigger an allergic reaction.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Allergy Statistics, American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology.|
|2.||↑||Sicherer, Scott H., Anne Muñoz-Furlong, A. Wesley Burks, and Hugh A. Sampson. “Prevalence of peanut and tree nut allergy in the US determined by a random digit dial telephone survey.” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 103, no. 4 (1999): 559-562.|
|3.||↑||Du Toit, George, Graham Roberts, Peter H. Sayre, Marshall Plaut, Henry T. Bahnson, Herman Mitchell, Suzana Radulovic et al. “Identifying infants at high risk of peanut allergy: the Learning Early About Peanut Allergy (LEAP) screening study.” Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 131, no. 1 (2013): 135-143.|