What Causes Peanut Allergies
An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system perceives a harmless substance as a threat. Its why you might sneeze at the thought of pollen or sniffle at the whiff of mold spores.
When a person has a peanut allergy, proteins in the peanut bind to something called specific IgE antibodies. These are antibodies produced by the immune system that travel to cells and release chemicals that cause an allergic reaction.
Exposure to peanuts through munching on a PB& J, for instance, triggers a persons immune defenses.
When you are allergic to peanuts your immune system can trigger a reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction to peanut that involves an intense drop in blood pressure and constriction of the airways.
Always check the food products you buy and make sure they do not contain peanuts or any nuts in the ingredients if you are allergic.
How Are Medications Used In Peanut Allergy Treatment
If you have a peanut allergy, your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to reduce the symptoms of an allergic reaction. You may take:
- Epinephrine : This is a lifesaving emergency medication that immediately begins reversing anaphylaxis symptoms.
- Antihistamines: These are medicines that reduce congestion or itching.
- Corticosteroids: These medications reduce swelling if you have an allergic reaction.
Can A Peanut Allergy Be Outgrown
Studies show that an estimated 2025% of children experiencing a peanut allergy will outgrow it. Of those that outgrow their allergy, 80% do so by the age of eight. While this data offers relief to many parents, it still means a large proportion of individuals will need to manage their condition.
Additionally, it can be hard to determine exact figures as many parents and children carry a fear of peanuts for many years. After experiencing a severe allergic reaction, it is natural to continue avoiding peanuts even if you may no longer be allergic. However, with the help of a food allergy doctor, tests can safely determine whether the allergy has gone away.
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Whos More Likely To Grow Out Of Their Food Allergy
Food allergy affects up to 10% of infants and 8% of children in Australia and New Zealand. Common food allergies in young children are egg, cows milk and peanut. Allergies to tree nuts, fish and seafood tend to be more common in adolescents.
Rates of food allergies have increased in children and adults in developed countries including Australia. Theres also an increase in the number of children up to four years old whove been admitted to hospital with food anaphylaxis .
Yet, Australian research shows almost all children with an egg allergy outgrow their allergy by the time they are four years old, as do about 20% of children with a peanut allergy.
However, for others, food allergies are likely to persist. This is most likely if they have eczema, hay fever and/or asthma alongside a tree nut allergy from a young age, or they have a severe allergic reaction to a low dose of their particular food allergen.
Food Allergies In Adults
Adults can develop food allergies as well. You might have a reaction to something randomly or even to something to which you were previously allergic. Avoid any food that causes you to have a reaction, and contact your doctor to learn more about the possible allergy.
If you have allergy symptoms or think that you may have outgrown an allergy, ask your doctor to confirm it.
If you suspect you may have outgrown a food allergy, here are steps you can take to see if your allergy is gone:
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Can You Grow Out Of Allergies
Can you grow out of allergies? Its not known exactly why some children will outgrow an allergy and others wont. There have been few studies that look into this. The studies that have been carried out can give some insight into who may or may not grow out of their allergy.
A survey which was conducted between June 2009 and February 2010 looked at 40,104 children in the US.
Of these 40,104 children, 3,188 had a food allergy and 1,245 children had outgrown a food allergy. Nine of the top food allergens were looked at milk, peanut, shellfish, tree nuts, egg, fish, wheat, soy and sesame. The results showed that:
- 26.6% of children had outgrown a food allergy.
- The average age of outgrowing the allergy was 5.4 years.
- The allergens that were most likely to be outgrown were milk , egg , and soy .
- The allergens that were least likely to be outgrown were shellfish , tree nut and peanut .
- The younger the child was when they experienced there first reaction, the more likely they were to grow out of the allergy.
- A child who experienced mild to moderate reactions was more likely to grow out of the allergy than a child who experienced severe reactions like trouble breathing, swelling or anaphylaxis.
- Black children were less likely to grow out of their allergy than white children.
- Girls were less likely to grow out of their allergy than boys.
Reviewing Childrens Food Allergies
As children can outgrow their allergy, it is important to have regular follow-up appointments with your allergy specialist. If you believe your child may have outgrown their food allergy and have no appointment with an allergy specialist, you are advised to seek medical advice on this. Your GP can refer you to an allergy clinic, where an oral challenge may be given to verify whether the allergy has been outgrown. Such challenge testing involves the patient eating small amounts of the culprit food, gradually building up the quantity until it can be shown that the patient is not allergic. This must be strictly controlled at an allergy clinic and should not be tried at home.
If the test is negative, your child is no longer allergic. There is a very strong chance that the allergy will not recur, although this does happen in a very small minority of cases. If your child has been carrying adrenaline, the question of whether they should play safe and still carry adrenaline must be discussed with the doctor overseeing the challenge. Some doctors advise that injectors should continue to be carried for a further limited period.
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How Can I Take Care Of Myself If I Have A Peanut Allergy
If you have a peanut allergy, you need to pay close attention to what you eat. Food manufacturers must clearly state on their ingredient label whether a food contains peanuts.
Prepackaged foods that dont contain peanuts can be contaminated during the manufacturing process. Watch for phrases like may contain peanuts and made in a factory on machinery that also may have been used to process peanut products.
When you go out to eat, ask questions about ingredients. For example, peanut butter may be in certain marinades or sauces. Ice cream or yogurt shops could be places of accidental exposure because peanuts are common ice cream toppings.
Can Peanut Allergy Be Prevented
In 2017, the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease issued new in order to define high, moderate and low-risk infants for developing peanut allergy. The guidelines also address how to proceed with introduction of peanut based on risk in order to prevent the development of peanut allergy.
The updated guidelines are a breakthrough for the prevention of peanut allergy. Peanut allergy has become much more common in recent years, and there is now a roadmap to prevent many new cases.
According to the new guidelines, an infant at high risk of developing peanut allergy is one with severe eczema and/or egg allergy. The guidelines recommend introduction of peanut-containing foods as early as 4-6 months for high-risk infants who have already started solid foods, after determining that it is safe to do so.
If your child is determined to be high risk, the guidelines recommend having them tested for peanut allergy. Your allergist may do this with a skin test or blood test. Depending on the results, they may recommend attempting to try peanut for the first time in the office. A positive test alone does not necessarily prove your child is allergic, and studies have shown infants who have a peanut sensitivity arent necessarily allergic.
Although parents want to do whats best for their children, determining what best means isnt always easy. So if your son or daughter is struggling with peanut allergies, take control of the situation and consult an allergist today.
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Why Do They Outgrow Their Food Allergy
Researchers dont know exactly why some children grow out of their food allergies. But their immune response to food allergens seems to change.
For instance, these children have lower levels of antibodies youd normally see as part of an allergic response . They also have higher levels of other immune system components .
Children who are not allergic or have developed naturally occurring tolerance are more likely to have stable levels of these cells. However, children with an allergy may not be able to regenerate these cells once exposed to the food allergen, so have lower levels.
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Lastly, changes in the diversity of gut microbiota and substances made by these microbes may also be involved.
However, we need more research to verify whats happening both in the immune system and the gut microbiome to be sure.
How Do You Know If A Peanut Allergy Has Been Outgrown
If you suspect a peanut allergy has been outgrown, make an appointment with your allergist. Typically, your allergist will conduct a skin prick test to see if there is a response to peanut proteins on the skin. A different approach is to use a blood test to analyze for high levels of antibodies related to peanut allergies.
Your allergist may also use an oral food challenge test. This involves consuming gradually increasing levels of peanut products to check for any reactions. If your child can consume a number of peanuts without a reaction, the allergy has been outgrown. These tests offer clarityon the condition and allow individuals to manage their diets based on up-to-date medical advice.
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Why Are Food Allergies On The Rise
More and more people seem to be allergic to one food type or another, although the causes are not clear.
One wrinkle I would add to that is that some patients were never even allergic in the first place, says Schroer. I wont blame the parents, but when kids had skin rashes like eczema, doctors may have attributed it to food when it may have been a skin disease.
Allergies can be based on fuzzy knowledge, Leek agrees. They could be allergies that never existed and allergies that were misdiagnosed. You have a parent with a baby who has a cows milk allergy, which could be outgrown in nine to 12 months, but parents interpret a sensitivity as an intolerance, such as diarrhea after eating nectarines.
When a parent tells Leek that their child has an allergy, she immediately asks them how they know, how it was diagnosed, who told them the child had an allergy, has the child been seen by an allergist, what kind of testing was done and what allergy plan they have in place.
The bottom line is even if your children have been tested in the past for food allergies and found to have them, its a good idea to get them tested again to see if they have outgrown them. If they have, not only will they be happy to eat foods again they have long avoided, you wont have to worry about carrying around an EpiPen. And now that theyve been cleared of food allergies, our boys are enjoying an all-American treat that they never could before: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
Changes In Food Allergy Treatment Approach
As food allergy numbers began spiking in the 1990s, doctors recommended that allergenic foods such as milk, eggs and peanuts be removed from the diets of children with a high risk of allergies.
That thinking began to change, though, as research showed that eliminating specific foods did not slow the development of food allergies.
Then came the groundbreaking Learning Early About Peanut allergy study in 2015. The study found that the development of peanut allergies decreased in at-risk children with an early introduction of the food.
It was completely the opposite of what we had believed, notes Dr. Hong.
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What Else Should I Know
Here are other things to remember:
- Watch for cross-contamination that can happen on kitchen surfaces and utensils everything from knives and cutting boards to the toaster. Make sure the knife another family member used to make peanut butter sandwiches is not used to butter your bread and that nut breads are not toasted in the same toaster you use.
- Avoid cooked foods you didn’t make yourself anything with an unknown list of ingredients.
- Tell everyone who handles the food you eat, from relatives to restaurant waitstaff, that you have a nut allergy. If the manager, chef, or owner of a restaurant is uncomfortable about your request for peanut- or nut-free food preparation, don’t eat there.
- Make school lunches and snacks at home where you can control the preparation.
- Be sure your school knows about your allergy and has an action plan in place for you.
- Keep rescue medicine on hand at all times not in your locker, but in a pocket, purse, or bookbag that’s always with you.
Living with a food allergy can seem hard at times. But as more and more people are diagnosed with food allergies, businesses and restaurants are increasingly aware of the risks they face.
If friends you’re visiting or eating lunch with don’t know about your food allergy, tell them in plenty of time to make some simple preparations . Chances are, they’ll understand. As your friends, they probably hope you’ll be as considerate when it comes to taking care of them!
Can You Treat Peanut Allergies
You wont be able to use antihistamines to treat peanut allergies. But if you have allergic reactions to peanuts , theres actually some light at the end of the sneezy and wheezy tunnel. Thats because peanut allergies are the only food allergies with an FDA-approved treatment.
In 2020, a treatment called Palforzia was approved to mitigate allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock, and it can be administered to children ages four through 17 with peanut allergies. It consists of three phases that consist of increasing dosage over time.
Essentially, its a form of allergy immunotherapy that gradually exposes the bodys immune system to the allergen over time. After a while, the body adapts and can shield itself against foreign threats. You can think of it as running .1 miles farther every single day until youre able to run a whole marathon.
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Nutrition For A Peanut
Peanuts are a good source of protein in a child’s diet. Peanuts also provide a source of niacin, magnesium, vitamins E and B6, manganese, pantothenic acid, chromium, folacin, copper and biotin. Your child can get vitamins and nutrients by consuming a variety of foods from other food groups.
Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
Managing a peanut allergy usually involves an interprofessional team. The majority of patients are first seen by the primary care clinician. While avoidance is the primary means of preventing a food allergy reaction, strict avoidance can place a significant burden on patient quality of life and provoke anxiety in patients and family members. Besides avoiding peanuts, nurses should educate patients to be careful not to consume cross-contaminated foods how to interpret food labels to identify sources of food allergens. A self-injectable epinephrine prescription is necessary for patients with peanut allergies. They should receive education on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of food hypersensitivity and how to administer epinephrine. Today there are novel ways to decrease peanut allergy with various types of immunotherapeutic methods. The oral immunotherapy technique has been shown to have the most promise. However, until a definitive method of preventing peanut allergy is available, the key is for all clinicians to encourage allergic patients to carry injectable epinephrine and avoid peanuts.
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How My Son Overcame His Peanut Allergy
A diary of how my son beat his peanut allergy and went from carrying an EpiPen on his belt to popping chocolate-covered peanuts.
You could say that our family is unlucky. Our eldest son, Theo, was diagnosed with a peanut allergy as a baby. We found out when, on the advice of our paediatrician, we fed him peanut butter when he was nine months old.
He was a healthy baby. He ate everything, and neither my husband nor I have severe food allergies. But a few seconds after tasting a bit of peanut butter from a spoon, he threw up. His doctor told us to try it again when he was a year old, so we did, more nervous this time. He immediately threw up and got hives. A few weeks later, an allergist confirmed it: Theo was severely allergic to peanutseven the smallest taste could trigger an anaphylactic reaction.
My first thoughts were, Why us? Why him? Was it because I ate peanut butter for breakfast almost every day when I was pregnant? Was it because I didnt breastfeed past four weeks? But there were no clear answers. And even if there were, what good would it do? Our sweet son was stuck with this deadly allergy, potentially for the rest of his life.
But I would also say were lucky.
Weve explained what we know about the study to Theo. He seems to get it, but asks just one question: Can I be in the study but not do the part about eating peanuts?
Hes done it! Theos been eating the studys maximum dosageabout two peanutsevery day for four weeks. Or has he?