Peanut allergies are common among children and they are on the rise.
According to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology’s statistics on allergies, peanuts are the prevailing allergens for children with food allergies.
One study showed that from 1997 to 2002, peanut allergies in children doubled, said Foodallergy.org. The rise in dominance of allergic diseases has continued for more than 50 years worldwide.
Peanut allergy symptoms can range from a minor irritation to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction. Peanut allergy is one of the most common causes of severe allergy attacks, according to Mayoclinic.com.
An allergic reaction to peanuts usually occurs within minutes of exposure.
There's still a risk of a more serious reaction later on, even for a child who had a mild reaction in the past. And even a minor reaction to peanuts should be assessed by a doctor, said Mayoclinic.com.
• Itching or tingling in or around the mouth and throat
• Diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting
• Tightened throat
• Shortness of breath or wheezing
• Runny nose
• Hives, redness or swelling
A severe reaction to peanuts should be treated with an epinephrine injector known as an EpiPen or Twinject, which inject adrenaline, and medical attention should be sought.
Anaphylaxis signs or symptoms can include airway constriction, difficulty breathing from throat swelling, shock, rapid pulse, dizziness, lightheadedness or loss of consciousness, said Mayoclinic.com.
Be aware of the unexpected sources of peanuts: egg rolls, pet food, specialty pizzas, pudding and salad dressing, may contain the allergen.
To ensure the absence of peanuts, always read the label and ask questions about ingredients before eating a pre-prepared food, Foodallergy.org warned.
People allergic to peanuts may develop allergies to other foods such as tree nuts. It is best to avoid ice cream shops and nut butters if you're unsure about ingredients, or call the manufacturer for further explanation.
Recent studies, however; indicate that up to 20 percent of children outgrow their peanut allergy, said Foodallergy.org.
Be aware of ingredients and possible cross-contamination. Most important of all, see a doctor immediately if an allergic reaction occurs, no matter how minor.
American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
Mayoclinic.com. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
Reviewed September 11, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith