What Is a Peanut Allergy?
A peanut allergy is an allergic reaction to the consumption of, or contact with, peanuts or foods that use peanuts as an ingredient. It results from your body’s immune system identifying peanuts as a threat to your health. Peanuts are a legume rather than a tree nut but have proteins in common with pecans and walnuts, which may point to potential allergies for those nuts as well. Peanut allergy symptoms range from relatively mild to extremely severe, including life-threatening anaphylactic shock and death. If you experience a serious allergic reaction to peanuts, seek emergency medical help immediately.
Peanut allergies are most common in children, and seem to be increasing in frequency. One estimate indicates that as many as one in 40 American children has this condition. If someone in your family is dealing with a peanut allergy, see your Baptist Health physician for consultation and treatment.
What Are Peanut Allergy Symptoms?
Peanut allergy symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing
- Itching and tingling sensations
- Feelings of tightness in the throat
- Runny nose
- Swelling, hives, and raised red patches on the skin
- Nausea and vomiting
- Cramping and diarrhea
In extreme cases, peanut allergies can cause anaphylaxis, which is the sudden and severe onset of multiple allergy symptoms, and may result in labored breathing, accelerated pulse, dizziness, drops in blood pressure, a state of shock, and death. Anaphylaxis should be addressed as a medical emergency. It is treated by medical personnel with the administration of intravenous fluids and one or more epinephrine (adrenalin) injections. Allergy sufferers should carry an epinephrine autoinjector with them at all times.
See your physician if you experience any of the symptoms of a peanut allergy, regardless of how mild.
How and When Do Peanut Allergies Occur?
Peanut allergies are the result of your immune system overreacting to the presence of peanut proteins on or in your body. The most common cause is consuming a food containing peanuts or peanut butter. An allergic reaction is also possible from inhaling peanut oil cooking sprays or using a product that came into contact with the allergen at some point during manufacture.
Several factors enhance the possibility of a peanut allergy:
- Age: Children are most likely to have peanut allergies but some adults do as well.
- Other food allergies: Being allergic to other foods increases the likelihood of a peanut allergy.
- Relatives with food allergies: A family member with a similar allergy increases the possibility of a shared genetic tendency toward this condition.
- Past allergies to peanuts: Even if you seemingly outgrow a peanut allergy, there is a risk of recurrence.
- Eczema: Persons suffering from eczema or atopic dermatitis may also experience food and peanut allergies.
Learn More About Peanut Allergies from Baptist Health
If you’re dealing with a peanut allergy, let the caring professionals at Baptist Health come in on your side.
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