Peanut allergy develops when the body’s immune system has an abnormal, hypersensitivity response to one or more of the peanut proteins. Peanuts can cause a severe, potentially fatal, allergic reaction. Casual contact with peanuts, such as touching peanuts or peanut butter residue, is less likely to trigger a severe reaction. Casual contact becomes a concern if the area that comes into contact with peanuts then comes into contact with the eyes, nose or mouth (for example, a child with peanut allergy gets peanut butter on her fingers, and then rubs her eyes). Food particles containing peanut proteins can become airborne during the grinding or pulverization, and inhaling peanut protein in this type of situation could cause an allergic reaction. In addition, odors may cause conditioned physical responses, such as a skin rash or a change in blood pressure.
Peanut Allergy Symptoms:
- respiratory system (difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing),
- gastrointestinal system (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea),
- cardiovascular system (increased heart rate, decreased blood pressure),
- neurological system (lightheadedness, passing out),
Peanut Allergy Management and Treatment
- Avoid peanut and peanut-derived products.
- Administer epinephrine (adrenaline) to counter a severe reaction.
- Always check food labels, even for products you know, as ingredients can change.
- All individuals with a peanut allergy should have an emergency action plan outlining the treatment plan for an acute reaction. Since epinephrine injection is the only treatment for a significant allergic reaction, all individuals with a peanut allergy should carry an epinephrine auto-injector at all times.