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.
Symptoms Of Nut Allergies
Each persons immune system is different and peanut, tree nut and seed allergies can cause diverse signs and symptoms, ranging from mild to severe. Many food allergies do not cause severe symptoms, but they can be life threatening in some people and should be taken seriously.Some people have negative or adverse reactions to food that are not caused by allergies. These can be caused by factors such as food poisoning, toxic reactions or food sensitivities . Although these are not allergic reactions, they are often mistaken for allergies. Mild allergic symptoms that can occur before a severe allergic reaction include:
- raised red bumps of skin hives
- swelling of the lips
- tingling of the throat and mouth
- itchy skin and rash
- tightening of the throat
- digestive symptoms cramps, stomach pain, nausea or vomiting.
If you or a child in your care have experienced any of these symptoms after eating peanuts, tree nuts or seeds, the risk of having a severe reaction after eating that food is greater than usual. Ask your doctor to refer you to a clinical immunology or allergy specialist.
How Do I Know If I’m Allergic*
Together with your symptom history, skin-prick testing or specific IgE blood testing can help determine if you are allergic to a particular allergen. If you are diagnosed with an allergy, your healthcare provider will work with you to create a management plan.
Please note that allergies can change over time, and 10 to 20 percent of children with peanut and tree nut allergies may outgrow them.10
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How Is A Food Allergy Diagnosed
If your child might have a food allergy, the doctor will ask about:
- your child’s symptoms
- how often the reaction happens
- the time it takes between eating a particular food and the start of symptoms
- whether any family members have allergies or conditions like eczema and asthma
The doctor will look for any other conditions that could cause the symptoms. For example, if your child seems to have diarrhea after drinking milk, the doctor may check to see if lactose intolerance could be the cause. Celiac disease a condition in which a person cannot tolerate the protein gluten also can cause similar symptoms.
The doctor might refer you to an , who will ask more questions and do a physical exam. The allergist probably will order tests to help make a diagnosis, such as:
- a skin test. This test involves placing liquid extracts of food allergens on your child’s forearm or back, pricking the skin, and waiting to see if reddish raised spots form within 15 minutes. A positive test to a food only shows that your child might be sensitive to that food.
- blood tests to check the blood for IgE antibodies to specific foods
If the test results are unclear, the allergist may do a food challenge:
- During this test, a person slowly gets increasing amounts of the potential food allergen to eat while being watched for symptoms by the doctor. The test must be done in an allergist’s office or hospital with access to immediate medical care and medicines because a life-threatening reaction could happen.
Living With A Peanut Allergy
As there is currently no cure for peanut allergy, the complete avoidance of peanuts and foods which contain peanuts is important. Peanuts are widely used in a variety of foods and are a common ingredient in different types of cooking like Asian and Indian cuisine. They can also be found in foods like muesli and cereals and cereal bars.
It is important to carefully check the ingredients list on food items . Avoid foods which contain peanut and could be listed under any of the following names:
- Arachis hypogaea
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Is There A Risk For A Severe Event
Knowing the proteins, or components, within each allergen that are triggering your symptoms can help guide your management plan. With that in mind, and based on your symptom history, your healthcare provider may suggest something called a specific IgE component test, which can help reveal other pollens and foods you may react to.2
Already have your specific IgE component test results?
Your component test results will include the name of the components . Your healthcare provider will likely review the results with you, but here you’ll find an at-a-glance breakdown you can use as a reference. Simply match the component names to the list below to see what they mean in terms of symptom management.2
rAra h 1, rAra h 2, rAra h 3, Ara h 6
- Usually associated with a higher risk for severe reactions or anaphylaxis.
- Stable to heat and digestion cooked, roasted, and raw peanuts may cause symptoms.
rAra h 9
- Usually associated with an intermediate risk for severe reactions but also with milder symptoms such as Oral Allergy Syndrome .
- May cause symptoms due to cross-reactivity to pollens , plant foods , nuts , and more.
- Stable to heat and digestion cooked, roasted, and raw peanuts may cause symptoms.
rAra h 8
- Usually associated with mild, localized symptoms, such as OAS, but may also include severe allergic reactions.
- May cause symptoms due to cross-reactivity to pollens , raw plant foods , and more.
- Sensitive to heat and digestion cooked or roasted peanuts may be tolerated.
rBet v 2
Managing A Peanut Allergy At School
Kids love peanut butter, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are a lunchbox staple. But peanut oil is sticky and it can cross-contaminate other foods and remain behind on lunch tables, hands, or drinking fountains.
Schools deal with the risk of cross-contamination in different ways that include establishing separate lunch tables for allergic kids and banning peanuts from the entire school. What appears to be most challenging is balancing the needs of children with peanut allergies with the freedom of other children to eat their favorite foods.
Cleaning peanut residue off doorknobs, desks, and other items requires a daily cleaning routine.
Keeping the lines of communication open with the teachers and staff is the best approach to safeguarding children with peanut allergy. If your child has a peanut allergy, contact the school before the first day. Talk to the school nurse and teacher about a plan to keep your child safe at school. And learn more about peanut-free alternatives to the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
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Are Peanut Allergies In Adults Common
Have you experienced a skin rash, itching in the mouth, or even breathing difficulties after eating peanuts? If so, you may be in need of a peanut allergy treatment to prevent a severe reaction. Most people are aware of the dangers to young children from peanut allergies, but discussions on the dangers to Atlanta adults are less prevalent. So, just how common are peanut allergies in adults today?
Natural Ways To Reduce The Peanut Allergy
In the U.S., approximately 1 to 2 percent of the population has a peanut allergy about 3 million people a percentage that continues to rise.
In the past two decades, the prevalence of peanut allergies has more than quadrupled, up from 0.4 percent of the U.S. population in 1997 to 1.4 percent in 2008 to more than 2 percent in 2010.
Peanut allergies are more prevalent among children under 3 years old, and the risk of developing this allergy increases to 7 percent for a sibling of a child with a peanut allergy. This is why peanuts are among the big eight food allergies, along with eggs, fish, milk, tree nuts, shellfish, soy and wheat.
Whats really disturbing is that theres no clear, definitive reason why this common food allergy is on the rise, but new research in the New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet suggests that avoiding peanuts at an early age may be partly to blame.
And, on top of that, recent research shows that consuming minuscule amounts of peanut protein combined with probiotic supplements can significantly reduce peanut allergies and sensitivities in children.
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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!
Who Is At Risk And Why
Children — especially toddlers and infants — are more likely to develop food allergies.
If you or other family members have other types of allergies, peanuts could be a problem.
Also, if you have eczema, you may also be more likely to be allergic.
If you have peanut allergy, that doesnt have to mean you are more likely to have a problem with other nuts or legumes. Peanuts grow underground and are different from almonds, cashews, walnuts and other tree nuts.
But recent studies found that 25% to 40% of people who have peanut allergy are allergic to tree nuts, too.
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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.
What To Do For A Mild Reaction
If you develop a mild allergic reaction that only affects one body system , over-the-counter antihistamines might be enough for treatment.
These drugs can help relieve mild symptoms, such as itchiness and hives. But they cant stop a severe allergic reaction. In some cases, mild symptoms occur before you develop severe symptoms. Pay close attention to your body and be prepared to use your epinephrine auto-injector and get medical help if your reaction becomes severe.
If you have never been diagnosed with an allergy and suspect that youve had an allergic reaction, make an appointment with your doctor. They can help determine what caused your symptoms. You can then learn how to avoid and treat allergic reactions in the future.
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Keeping A Record Of Your Nut Allergy Symptoms
Diagnosing an allergy can be difficult. If you think you or a child in your care might have an allergy, keeping a record of symptoms can help you and your doctor to understand what is causing them. Keep a diary that describes the symptoms, and when and where they occur. Your diary could include information about whether the symptoms occur:
- inside your home, outside or both
- for a short time or longer
- at night, during the day or when you wake up
- after you have had a particular food or drink
- after you have taken a herbal medicine.
How Is Nut Allergy Treated
If you or your child has reacted to eating nuts, the first step is to see your doctor. They may send you to an allergy specialist who will do a skin or blood test to see what you are allergic to. You may be allergic to several different types of nuts.
There is no cure for nut allergy. The only proven treatment is to completely avoid exposure to the nuts you are allergic to. Research is underway into how to prevent nut allergies in people who may be at risk, and how to ‘switch off’ nut allergy using immunotherapy.
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Are There Other Allergens I Could Be Sensitized To*
Some people with a peanut allergy may also experience symptoms when eating other seemingly unrelated foods. This is called cross-reactivity and occurs when your body’s immune system identifies the proteins, or components, in different substances as being structurally similar or biologically related, thus triggering a response. The most common cross-reactivities with peanuts are plant foods, e.g., tree nuts, fruits, soybeans, vegetables, and legumes.2
If you experience an itchy mouth or ears, scratchy throat, hives on the mouth, or swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue, or throat after eating peanuts or other related fresh fruits, raw vegetables, or tree nuts, you may suffer from Pollen Food Allergy Syndrome also called Oral Allergy Syndrome . This condition is caused by your immune system’s reaction to similar proteins, or components, found in foods and pollens.7 It is quite common, as one study suggests that up to 25 percent of children with allergic rhinitis also suffer from PFAS.11 Common pollen allergies that could cause OAS when eating peanuts include tree , grass, and weed.2
How To Treat A Severe Reaction
If you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction in two or more body systems , or any severe symptoms, its a medical emergency. The reaction could be life-threatening.
To treat a severe allergic reaction, you need an injection of epinephrine. If youre diagnosed with a peanut allergy, your doctor will instruct you to carry epinephrine auto-injectors. Each device includes an easy-to-use preloaded dose of epinephrine that you can give to yourself .
After the epinephrine, you still need emergency medical help. If you dont have an epinephrine auto-injector, call 911 or your local emergency number immediately to get help.
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A Peanut Allergy Myth
Contrary to urban legend, a childs peanut allergy cannot be triggered by a classmate eating a peanut sandwich across the table. The allergens are not airborne in this way.
Younger children do need to be monitored so they dont share foods accidentally. Wash eating areas and hands with soap and water after eating so a smudge of peanut butter doesnt accidentally get transferred to a child with an allergy.
However, it is not necessary to ban all peanut products from a school because one child is allergic. Peanut allergy is just one of many food allergens. Talk with your allergist about common safe practices for school. There are many resources available to help manage school safely for a child with food allergies.
Contributed by: Megan O. Lewis, MSN, RN, CPNPDate: April 2018
Causes Of Nut Allergies
Tiny proteins found in nuts arenât affected by things like heat or acid, so theyâre still intact after theyâre processed, cooked, or even digested. Some people are sensitive to these intact proteins, and their bodies make antibodies to fight them.
The antibodies latch on to the proteins. This triggers your immune system to release a chemical called histamine. Histamine is actually what causes the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Peanuts and tree nuts arenât the same. But if youâre allergic to one, you may also need to avoid the other. Ask your doctor to be sure.
Tree nuts include:
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Prevention Of Peanut Allergy
Research has shown that some infants are at a higher risk of developing a food allergy, including those: with eczema , or who already have a food allergy themselves. Research has shown that these infants may benefit from the introduction of foods containing egg and peanut from 4 months alongside other complementary foods.
Early introduction is thought to help the immune system tolerate peanut protein. Infants with no eczema or known food allergy can be given food containing peanut from the time that solid food is introduced, at around 6 months, when baby is developmentally ready, but not before 4 months and within the first 12 months of life.
This should be in the form of smooth peanut butter or peanut snacks suitable for babies . Once peanut has been introduced into your childs diet it is important to continue 1-2 teaspoons, 2-3 times per week to maintain tolerance. so ensure you speak to your health professional as soon as possible. It is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women to consume peanuts unless they are allergic themselves.
What are the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction to peanut?
Signs and symptoms usually occur within minutes of contact with peanuts, but can also occur up to one hour later. Most allergic reactions are mild but they can also be moderate or severe. Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of allergic reaction which can be life threatening.
Mild to moderate symptoms include:
Itchy mouth, tongue and throat
Red raised itchy rash