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- What Is a Peanut Allergy?
- Symptoms of Peanut Allergies
- Diagnosing Peanut Allergies
- Help for Peanut Allergies
What Is a Peanut Allergy?
Peanut allergies are the most common type of food allergy in children. They are often severe, with a rapid onset of symptoms that range from atopic dermatitis to anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening constriction of the throat and airways. As peanuts are digested, they trigger the release of a large amount of histamines. Although peanut allergies are different than nut allergies, most peanut allergy sufferers also have tree nut allergies. About 20% of infants born with peanut allergies will outgrow them, but for most, a peanut allergy is a lifelong problem.
Symptoms of Peanut Allergies
Peanut allergy symptoms are similar to other food allergies, but tend to be more severe. Peanut allergy ranks highest in food allergy-related deaths, although deaths are quite rare.
Peanut allergy symptoms will vary depending on the person and the severity of the allergy. Most develop symptoms within several minutes of exposure. Typical symptoms include rashes or hives, itching and tingling around the mouth and in the throat, digestive issues like stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting and asthma-related symptoms such as tightening of the chest, wheezing and shortness of breath. In very severe attacks, anaphylaxis can cause a life-threatening swelling of the face and throat and constrict the airways. Immediate emergency medical attention is required for an anaphylactic episode.
Diagnosing Peanut Allergies
Peanut allergies are usually diagnosed through a history of symptoms and physical examination to rule out any other possible health problems. The doctor will likely ask what happened after you ate peanuts, how long it took for the reaction to occur and how much was in the food consumed. The presence of a peanut allergy may be confirmed with an elimination diet, skin test and/or blood test.
Skin prick tests involve placing a small amount of a suspected allergen just under the skin surface and waiting for fifteen minutes to see if there is a reaction. A raised bump or irritation at the site indicates a positive result. Blood tests can also be used to measure the body's immune response to particular foods by checking the level of immunoglobulin E antibodies (IgE) in your system.
Even if allergies aren't present, some people may have an intolerance to peanuts and other nuts that causes a less severe reaction. Those with mild intolerance may be able to eat nuts with minor symptoms because an intolerance doesn't trigger a full allergic response. Those with full nut allergies tend to experience more severe reactions and must avoid all contact with foods containing them, even in trace amounts.
Help for Peanut Allergies
There are no cures for peanut allergies, although desensitization has proven to be successful in some cases. Children who receive desensitization therapy are gradually given increased doses of peanut extract to build tolerance. Approximately 20% of children will outgrow peanut allergies using this method of treatment.
Minor allergic reactions are usually treated with antihistamines to help reduce symptoms like itching and sneezing. Homeopathic remedies can also be used successfully to relieve minor irritation caused by peanut allergies. AllergyEase Nut & Seed is a 100% homeopathic remedy that can be used safely in both adults and children to temporarily relieve symptoms of minor allergies caused by nuts, peanuts and seeds.