What is Peanut Allergy?
Peanut allergy is commonly found in children, but it can also affect adults. Allergies may improve or worsen as you age.
Peanut allergy is divided into two types, allergy to legumes grown from trees, such as almonds (almonds), walnuts (walnuts), hazelnuts (hazelnuts), macadamia nuts, and so on. The other type of peanut allergy is allergy to legumes that grow from the soil, such as peas, peanuts, soybeans, and so on.
People who have allergies to tree nuts do not necessarily have allergies to peanuts, and vice versa. However, both result in similar symptoms and allergic reactions.
Allergic reactions vary, ranging from mild reactions to critical reactions. The most common symptoms are the appearance of skin rashes, nausea, or vomiting.
Causes of Peanut Allergy
In people with peanut allergies, the immune system reacts to certain allergy-triggering molecules (allergens) in food. Your body produces antibodies that detect allergens. This causes an inflammatory reaction and the release of a chemical called histamine. This histamine causes urticaria, rashes, allergic rhinitis (hay fever), and other allergy symptoms.
Allergic reactions can be triggered by the following:
- Direct contact, for example by eating peanuts or foods containing nuts. In addition, direct skin contact with peanuts can also cause allergies.
- Indirect contact, when you unconsciously make contact with peanuts within a product. Usually, this happens when food is exposed to nuts during the manufacturing process.
- Accidentally inhale dust or aerosols (solid particles in the air or liquid droplets) containing nuts, such as peanut flour or peanut oil.
Common Allergy-Causing Types of Peanuts
Types of peanuts that can cause peanut allergic reactions are:
- Brazil nut
- Hickory nuts
- Macadamia nuts
- Pine nut
- Green beans
- Red beans
There are several factors that can increase the risk of peanut allergies, including:
Peanut allergy is most commonly found in children and infants. As they get older, their digestive system gets better. Your body will most likely have a milder reaction to foods that can cause an allergic reaction. However, it is possible for peanut allergy to recur as an adult.
If you already have allergies to certain foods, you have higher risk of getting a peanut allergy.
Genetic factors also play a role in peanut allergy. If you have a family member who has a certain peanut allergy or food allergy, you are likely to have a similar allergy.
People who have skin disorders such as eczema also have the potential to have food allergies.
Note that peanut allergy is a difficult type of allergy to remove. Only about 1 in 5 people do not experience a recurring peanut allergic reaction as adults. Usually, this happens to those who only have a mild allergic reaction.
When to See a Doctor for Peanut Allergy
There are several tests to find out if you have an allergy to peanuts:
- Skin test is done by making a small puncture on the skin and putting peanut extract liquid on your skin. This test does not cause extreme pain. The reaction will usually occur 20-30 minutes after the liquid is put on.
- Blood test is performed by measuring the amount of protein in your body. This protein is called immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies that are produced as an allergic reaction.
- Food test is done by having you eat foods that may contain nuts. Your doctor will monitor you for 15-30 minutes to see how your body reacts to food. Food tests are always done in the hospital to avoid the onset of critical reactions.
If you are diagnosed with an allergy to a certain type of peanut, it is possible that you will be tested to determine if you are also allergic to other types of nuts. Once diagnosed, an allergy specialist will help you devise ways to avoid the onset of a reaction.
Symptoms of Peanut Allergy
Immune system varies from person to person. This is why allergic reactions are different in each person. Many food allergies do not result in a critical allergic reaction. However, for some people, an allergic reaction to peanuts can be life threatening.
Mild symptoms that may occur include:
- Urticaria and skin rash
- Swollen lips
- Tingling sensation in the throat and mouth
- Itching sensation on your skin
- Runny nose
- Narrowed throat
- Indigestion such as stomach cramps, stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting
Some people experience negative reactions to food, such as dizziness or bloating. However, it should be noted that these symptoms are not allergies – they can occur due to food poisoning factors or intolerance to certain foods.
Meanwhile, the symptoms of critical / anaphylactic shock (anaphylaxis) that may occur include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Breathing sound
- Swollen tongue
- Swollen throat or narrowed throat
- Difficulty speaking or a hoarse voice
- Persistent cough
- Persistent dizziness
- Pale face
- Difficulty balancing your footsteps when walking
- Fast heartbeat
If you have experienced anaphylactic shock, you need emergency medical help or an epinephrine injection such as EpiPen.
Treatment for Peanut Allergy
If you experience a mild allergic reaction, be sure to take anti allergy medications. You can purchase medications such as chlorpheniramine in pharmacies. It is important to note that you may feel sleepy after taking this medication, as it is one of the side effects.
Another treatment option is immunotherapy. Your doctor will give you a small amount of allergens gradually to form immunity. However, this is rare, as it has the potential to cause anaphylactic shock,
Treatment Cost for Peanut Allergy
Treatment cost for peanut allergy varies depending on the choice of the hospital, the type and amount of medications, you need to consume, as well as the severity of the allergy.
To find out the estimated treatment cost for peanut allergy, hospital recommendations, and to make an appointment with a doctor, contact Smarter Health.
Prevention of Peanut Allergy
Remember to read food labels clearly and ask about food content when you order food in restaurants. If you are going to eat in a buffet and you notice any food that potentially contains nuts, be sure to avoid those foods.
For those of you who have a critical reaction, please always bring medications as prescribed by your doctor, as well as epinephrine injections.