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Can You Develop An Allergy To Peanuts

What Is Food Intolerance

Can peanut allergies be avoided by early exposure?

A food intolerance isn’t the same as a food allergy.

People with food intolerance may have symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating and stomach cramps. This may be caused by difficulties digesting certain substances, such as lactose. However, no allergic reaction takes place.

Important differences between a food allergy and a food intolerance include:

  • the symptoms of a food intolerance usually occur several hours after eating the food
  • you need to eat a larger amount of food to trigger an intolerance than an allergy
  • a food intolerance is never life threatening, unlike an allergy

Read more about food intolerance.

Page last reviewed: 15 April 2019 Next review due: 15 April 2022

Birch And Grass Pollen

Peanut contains proteins that cross-react with birch or grass pollen. Some individuals with these pollen allergies may have oral allergy syndrome to peanut. And, for those who do have OAS, they may experience symptoms with some, but not all, foods cross-reactive to a particular pollen to which they are allergic.

How Common Are They

Nearly 18 million adults in the United States have hay fever, or allergic rhinitis. Itâs caused by pollens, weeds, grasses, and molds. Many more have allergic reactions to other things in the environment, like dust mites, dogs, and cats. Some are allergic to foods, like peanuts or shellfish. Still others are allergic to medicines, like penicillin.

Doctors donât know exactly how many adults are diagnosed with allergies for the first time. But nasal allergies affect more Americans every years, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

âAs the population is aging, weâre seeing that people can have late-onset allergies,â says Beth Corn, MD, an allergist in New York City. âNow, it could be that some people were not diagnosed they might have really had allergies earlier on. It just might be that people are also a little bit more aware now of allergies.â

Whatever the case, allergies are all over, and theyâre big business. Theyâre the sixth-leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S., according to the CDC. And they cost Americans more than $18 billion a year.

We know what causes allergies: Your immune system overreacts to an allergen . You sneeze, sniffle, itch, or cough. But why this happens to you, when your Uncle Fred is on their third shrimp cocktail, is unclear.

âThatâs the thing about allergies,â Corn says. âYouâre fine, youâre fine, youâre fine … until youâre not.â

Nobody knows why.

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What Should I Do If I Develop Adult Onset Allergies

If you believe you have developed allergies as an adult, avoid any suspected allergens while you are waiting to see your allergist. Your allergist may order some tests such as blood or skin tests to further evaluate your allergies.

If allergy testing confirms a diagnosis of allergy, your allergist will work with you to develop a treatment plan including avoidance measures, medications, and/or other treatment options such as immunotherapy for environmental allergies.

Peanut Allergy: What You Should Know

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Peanuts were once a snack-time staple, but these days, they are largely off-limits for a growing number of kids and adults. Its common now not to serve certain foods at birthday parties or school to keep kids with peanut allergies safe.

It can seem scary how much damage a little piece of food can do, but you can lower the risk of having a severe reaction if you learn how to spot your symptoms and avoid peanuts.

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Emergency Treatment For Severe Allergic Reactions

If you are at risk of a severe allergic reaction , carry an adrenaline autoinjector such as EpiPen® and a means of calling for medical assistance such as a mobile telephone. Emergency responses for a severe allergic reaction are:

  • lay the person flat do not allow them to stand or walk
  • administer adrenaline with an autoinjector
  • always dial triple zero to call an ambulance in a medical emergency.

If you are at risk of a severe allergic reaction, make sure you:

  • have a severe allergic reaction action plan
  • carry an adrenaline autoinjector to treat a severe allergic reaction
  • wear medical identification jewellery this increases the likelihood that adrenaline will be administered in an emergency
  • avoid medication that may increase the severity of allergic reaction or complicate its treatment such as beta blockers
  • seek medical advice.

Developing A Sudden Nut Allergy

Most people develop allergies as children. If you have a nut allergy as a child, you may even grow out of it.

However, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology and the Mayo Clinic, it’s also possible to develop a food allergy as an adult. The sudden onset of food allergies in adults can occur even when a person has been eating that food for their entire lives. Once you become allergic to something as an adult, it’s likely to always cause you issues.

That being said, adult food allergies are rare. Harvard Health Publishing says that only 4 percent of adults are allergic to food products.

If you suspect a sudden walnut allergy or other tree nut allergy, you are likely to experience symptoms like:

  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, including stomach pain, cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

  • Feeling like your throat is closing up. This may make you feel like you are having problems swallowing or shortness of breath.

  • Itchy mouth, throat, eyes or skin.

  • Anaphylaxis. This is the most dangerous symptom

    it can be life-threatening and has the potential to send the body into shock.

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Peanut Allergies And Their Prevalence In Children

In recent years, the rise in peanut allergies among children has become an unfortunate phenomenon. In fact, studies suggest that the years 2010 to 2017 saw a 21% increase in reported cases in the US. With around 2.5% of children negatively impacted, many Atlanta parents are naturally wary of their childs food intake and want access to peanut allergy treatment options. But just why are so many children suffering from peanut allergies?

When To Seek Medical Advice

What causes peanut and nut allergies? How can you cure an allergy?

If you think you or your child may have a food allergy, it’s very important to ask for a professional diagnosis from your GP. They can then refer you to an allergy clinic if appropriate.

Many parents mistakenly assume their child has a food allergy when their symptoms are actually caused by a completely different condition.

Commercial allergy testing kits are available, but using them isn’t recommended. Many kits are based on unsound scientific principles. Even if they are reliable, you should have the results looked at by a health professional.

Read more about diagnosing food allergies.

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Reliable Diagnosis Of Food Allergy Is Important

A doctor will ask a series of questions that may help to narrow down the list of likely causes of allergy such as foods or medicines consumed that day, or exposure to stinging insects. This approach will help to exclude conditions that can sometimes be confused with food allergy.

Skin tests or blood tests for allergen specific IgE help confirm or exclude potential triggers. While the results of allergy tests are a useful guide in determining whether a person is allergic, they are not a reliable guide to how severe a reaction will be.

Types Of Food Allergies

Food allergies are divided into 3 types, depending on symptoms and when they occur.

  • IgE-mediated food allergy the most common type, triggered by the immune system producing an antibody called immunoglobulin E . Symptoms occur a few seconds or minutes after eating. There’s a greater risk of anaphylaxis with this type of allergy.
  • non-IgE-mediated food allergy these allergic reactions aren’t caused by immunoglobulin E, but by other cells in the immune system. This type of allergy is often difficult to diagnose as symptoms take much longer to develop .
  • mixed IgE and non-IgE-mediated food allergies some people may experience symptoms from both types.

Read more information about the symptoms of a food allergy.

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How To Avoid Peanuts

Foods that contain peanuts have to say so on the label. Thats the law in the United States. Read all food labels every time, because ingredients can change. There might be nuts in something you didnt think had them. If you arent sure, check with the products maker.

There is no easy fix for the allergy. The only way to prevent a bad reaction is to avoid peanuts. But no matter how careful you are, you may still come into contact with them because theyre so common. It is important to know how to act fast in a life-threatening case.

Peanut allergies usually are lifelong for most people. But research finds that about 20% of children who have the allergy outgrow it eventually. For children at risk of peanut allergies, the recommendations to do allergy testing and introducing peanut products vary depending on the child’s risk.

WebMD Medical Reference

Avoidance Is The Only Proven Treatment For Peanut Tree Nut Or Seed Allergy

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The only proven treatment for peanut, tree nut or seed allergy is avoidance of the allergen. Omitting peanuts, tree nuts or seeds from the diet has no adverse nutritional consequences for most people. Children with food allergy should take their own food with them to school and be taught not to swap or share food. In common eating and food preparation areas, where there are children with severe peanut or tree nut allergy, nut-containing foods are best avoided.

In early childhood education/care, with very young children where the risk of food contamination of common eating areas or toys is higher, it may be requested that parents do not send nut containing foods in lunch boxes to reduce the risk. This is not a policy that is considered necessary when caring for older children, although the use of nut or seed containing foods in cooking classes and science experiments is discouraged if there are students with peanut or tree nut allergy in that class.

Research into food allergy is ongoing

The increased frequency of peanut and tree nut allergy is driving research into areas trying to find out why it has become more common, and how to treat and prevent it. Research has shown that early exposure to peanut reduces the risk of allergy developing in high risk infants. Allergen immunotheprapy studies are trying to see if peanut allergy can be switched off once the allergy has developed.

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Causes Of Nut Allergies

For all allergies, the immune system reacts to specific allergy trigger molecules . Your immune system, or that of a child in your care, produces antibodies that detect the allergen and cause inflammatory reactions and the release of a chemical called histamine. Histamine causes hives, hay fever and other allergic symptoms. The molecules that trigger your allergic reaction can be present in a range of foods, and you may have an allergic reaction to foods containing that molecule. For this reason, some people are allergic to the same allergy trigger in cashews and pistachios. This is known as cross-reactivity. Speak to your doctor about cross-reactivity because it is difficult to predict. In addition to peanuts, a wide range of tree nuts can also cause allergic reactions in some people. These include, but are not limited to:

  • almonds
  • pistachios
  • walnuts.

The most common type of seed allergy is to sesame, although other types of seed, such as sunflower and poppy seeds, can also cause allergies. Allergic reactions to eating coconut, a large seed, are rare. However, an allergic reaction caused by contact with coconut, and cosmetics and products containing coconut, is more common. Peanut, tree nut and seed allergies are difficult to predict, so visit your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

How Do Adult Onset Allergies Develop

If youre predisposed to a certain type of allergy, but youve never been around that allergen before, it can seem like your symptoms have materialized out of nowhere. Say, for instance, you never had pets growing up. Youre allergic to pet dander, but youd never know it. Then, your roommate decides to get a dog, and your allergies start going crazy.

So yes, even though it may seem like you just woke up with allergies one day, theres usually a medical explanation for why its happened. Unfortunately, that explanation can be difficult to pinpoint, especially when youre simply becoming aware of an allergy you may have had for some time.

In other cases, allergies do develop on their own. You may notice changes suddenly, or monitor a gradual shift in your reaction to a specific substance. Adult onset allergies typically develop differently in different people.

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Take Steps To Protect Yourself

When you have a peanut allergy, the only way to avoid an allergic reaction is to stay away from all foods with peanuts. Reading ingredient lists and asking questions about food is a necessary part of avoiding peanuts and an allergic reaction.

In addition to peanut butter, peanuts are often found in:

  • Chinese, Thai, and Mexican foods
  • chocolate bars and other candies
  • cakes, pastries, and cookies

How Is A Peanut Allergy Treated

New Research Shows More Adults Developing Peanut Allergies

The main treatment for a peanut allergy is not to have any peanut products. Your healthcare provider or dietitian can help you create a meal plan that does not include peanut products. Medicines may be given to treat swelling, itching, or breathing problems if you accidentally eat peanuts. Medicine may also be given to reduce swelling. Medicine called epinephrine may be prescribed in case of a severe allergic reaction.

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Theories On Why The Prevalence Of Peanut Allergy Is Increasing

It remains unclear why the prevalence of peanut allergy is rising in the Western world. Multiple theories have tried to explain the overall increase in the prevalence of allergic diseases in the Western world over the last decade, mainly describing an imbalance between the T-helper 1 /T-helper 2 -biased cellular responses in early life . Other theories have been advanced to explain the rise of peanut allergy. The major peanut allergens have been detected in the breast milk of lactating women . This occult exposure through breast milk from mothers ingesting peanut during lactation may sensitize the infants to peanut and thus explain the occurrence of allergic reactions to peanut on first exposure in the majority of children . Alternatively, exposure of infants to peanut protein via breast milk in the perinatal period may aid in the development of immunologic tolerance in some infants.

Infection Or Environmental Agent

Hives including chronic spontaneous hives can be a complication and symptom of a parasitic infection, such as and among others.

The rash that develops from , , and contact is commonly mistaken for urticaria. This rash is caused by contact with and results in a form of called . Urushiol is spread by contact but can be washed off with a strong grease- or oil-dissolving detergent and cool water and rubbing ointments.

is marked by the appearance of weals or welts on the skin as a result of scratching or firm stroking of the skin. Seen in 4â5% of the population, it is one of the most common types of urticaria, in which the skin becomes raised and inflamed when stroked, scratched, rubbed, and sometimes even slapped.

The skin reaction usually becomes evident soon after the scratching and disappears within 30 minutes. Dermatographism is the most common form of a subset of chronic hives, acknowledged as “physical hives”.

It stands in contrast to the linear reddening that does not itch seen in healthy people who are scratched. In most cases, the cause is unknown, although it may be preceded by a viral infection, antibiotic therapy, or emotional upset. Dermographism is diagnosed by taking a and drawing it over the skin of the arm or back. The hives should develop within a few minutes. Unless the skin is highly sensitive and reacts continually, treatment is not needed. Taking antihistamines can reduce the response in cases that are annoying to the person.

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Diagnosis Of Nut Allergies

If you have allergic symptoms, visit your family doctor who will ask some questions about your allergic reactions. You can also discuss your record of your symptoms. To diagnose your allergy, your doctor may refer you to a specialist doctor known as an allergist or clinical immunologist. Allergists can test for allergies using a number of methods, depending on the type of potential allergy. To test for an allergy to peanuts, tree nuts and seeds, the allergist might:

  • do a skin prick test
  • do a blood test
  • ask you to temporarily avoid all nuts or products containing nuts , then follow up with the introduction of nuts back into your diet under strict medical supervision.

Get Treatment For A Peanut Allergy

Can You Develop an Allergic Reaction Just By Smelling Peanuts?

If youre concerned your child has a peanut allergy, dont delay in treating the problem. Dr. Chacko provides allergy testing and effective treatments for children of all ages. Visit us at one of our food allergy treatment center locations in Alpharetta, Atlanta, Canton, Cumming, Duluth or Johns Creek by calling .

Image Credit Albina Gavrilovic/

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Is There A Cure For Peanut Allergies

There is no cure for peanut allergies. But children can outgrow peanut allergies. As children get older, an allergist may perform another blood or skin test to measure a childs sensitivity to peanuts. If a peanut allergy appears to be decreasing, allergists may recommend an oral food test.

There are new treatments available called Oral Immunotherapy and early OIT. This is where carefully selected patients undergo therapy to help develop a tolerance to the food they have an allergy to. Palforzia®, a treatment for peanut allergies, is the first FDA approved treatment for food allergies. Although it doesn’t cure peanut allergies, it can make it possible for people to tolerate accidental peanut exposure without having a reaction.

If your child has a peanut allergy, it’s important to not give your child peanuts unless an allergist has directed you to do so.

As an adult, you can manage a peanut allergy by carefully avoiding peanuts. You may need to carry epinephrine if you have severe allergies that could lead to anaphylaxis.


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