Recent estimates suggest that nearly one million children and adolescents in the United States have a peanut allergy, with approximately 20 percent of these individuals outgrowing their allergy over time. The majority of individuals with a peanut allergy will have it for the rest of their lives.
The incidence of peanut allergy has been on the rise in recent years, which may be attributed to a variety of factors in our society, such as environmental changes, dietary changes over time, and even long-term recommendations to abstain from peanut-based foods.
Regardless of the cause, it is important to diagnose and treat a peanut allergy as soon as possible, as peanut allergy reactions can be severe. The following sections provide an overview of common peanut allergy reactions, peanut allergy causes, and peanut allergy treatment.
Peanut Allergy Symptoms
Peanut allergy reactions may result in a variety of skin, respiratory, digestive, and cardiovascular manifestations. These manifestations may include:
- Swelling of the skin
- Mouth or throat becoming itchy
- Swelling of the tongue
- Runny nose
- Red or watery eyes
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath
Symptoms of Anaphylaxis
Severe peanut allergies are the most common type of food allergy that can lead to anaphylaxis (anaphylactic shock). Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. Symptoms of an anaphylaxis include:
- Shortness of breath (and/or wheezing)
- Constriction of the throat
- Persistent dizziness or collapse
- Weak, rapid pulse
- Runny nose
- Pale and floppy (young children)
Peanut Allergy Causes
Peanut allergies are primarily caused by an abnormal immune response to proteins found in peanuts. When an individual with a predisposition to peanut allergies comes into contact with peanut proteins, their immune system mistakenly identifies these proteins as harmful invaders and triggers a peanut allergy reaction.
Peanut allergies can be hereditary, as individuals with a family history of allergies are more prone to developing this condition.
Additionally, early exposure to peanuts during infancy may influence the development of allergies, with delayed introduction increasing the risk. Although the exact mechanisms are still under investigation, these insights into the causes of peanut allergies are vital for both prevention and peanut allergy treatment.
Peanut Allergy Testing
Peanut allergy testing plays an important role in diagnosing and managing allergies to peanuts, which can be life-threatening for some individuals.
Peanut allergy testing may include:
A test in which the skin is lightly pricked with a tiny amount of peanut allergen, followed by monitoring for a reaction.
Measures the levels of IgE antibodies developed by the immune system, providing valuable information about the severity of the allergy.
A blood test that evaluates a patient’s ability to tolerate specific components of allergens. A peanut allergy component test is essential in differentiating between a cross reaction to pollen or a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction.
A gradual process in which a patient consumes a small amount of a suspected allergen over a period of three to four hours. As serious allergic reactions can be life-threatening, it should only be conducted under the guidance of a qualified clinician.
Our Foundation Labs (CLIA certified) specializes in component testing of 130+ different allergens, including allergen components unavailable at national laboratories and hundreds of different biomarkers.
Foods to Avoid to Prevent Peanut Allergy Reactions
Other Names For Peanut
People with peanut allergies should be extremely cautious about the foods they consume to prevent potentially severe peanut allergy reactions. In addition to avoiding peanuts, peanut oil, peanut butter and peanut flour, reading food labels diligently is essential, as peanuts or peanut derivatives can hide under various names, like the following:
- Arachis oil (another name for peanut oil)
- Artificial nuts
- Beer nuts
- Cold-pressed, expelled or extruded peanut oil
- Earth nuts
- Ground nuts
- Lupin (or lupine)
- Mixed nuts
- Monkey nuts
- Nut meat or nut meal
- Nut pieces
- Peanut protein hydrolysate
Cross-contamination is a significant concern, so it’s crucial to steer clear of foods that may have come into contact with peanuts during preparation. It’s wise to avoid foods processed in facilities that handle peanuts, as traces of allergens can still be present. It is essential to regularly inspect the components of the following commonly consumed foods:
- African, Chinese, Mexican,Thai, and other ethnic dishes
- Baked goods
- Chili, spaghetti sauce
- Egg rolls
- Enchilada sauce
- Flavoring (natural and artificial)
- Hydrolyzed plant protein
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- Ice creams, frozen yogurts, and nondairy frozen desserts
Peanut Allergy Treatment
For those with severe peanut allergies, the only proven food allergy treatment that makes it possible to achieve remission is the Food Allergy Institute’s Tolerance Induction Program™ (TIP).
TIP™ builds tolerance to the unique proteins each individual is allergic to, all before introducing their most anaphylactic allergen(s).
This ensures patient safety, and over time alters their immune system to not react to any of their allergens. Once an individual has reached remission, they can eat like anyone without a food allergy for the rest of their life.
OIT and similar food allergy treatments aim to desensitize patients to protect them from “accidental exposure.” Through TIP™, patients can eat as freely as a non-allergic person would.
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The Tolerance Induction Program™ (TIP) successfully treats ALL severe food allergies, including the TOP 9 major allergens and many more!
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