A Peanut Allergy Is No Laughing Matter

Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies. Individuals who are sensitive to peanuts can experience symptoms by ingesting peanuts but symptoms may also be triggered by inhaling the fumes of peanut oil or even by simply touching a peanut. Depending on the severity of the allergy, symptoms can range from mild to life threatening.

For the most part, food allergies tend to be more prominent among children. That’s because young children have been exposed to fewer types of food and often repeated exposure can help the body to become familiar with the food so that it is no longer harmful. Many children will outgrow their food allergies but some will remain allergic throughout their lives.

Because peanuts and peanut oil are used in so many products, peanut allergy can be a particular concern. As the only real treatment for the condition is avoiding the allergen, that means taking steps to cut all peanuts and peanut containing products out of your regular diet. When you start looking at food labels closely, you’ll begin to realize just how big an undertaking that is.


Another thing many people don't realize is even if the the product contains no peanut products they may have been produced in a plant that also manufactures or packages products with peanuts. In some cases this can result in cross contamination within the plant.

With incidences of allergy increasing in recent years, more food manufacturers have become sensitive to the needs of allergy sufferers. As a result, you are more likely to see warnings printed on labels indicating that a product may contain peanuts or have been manufactured in an environment where peanuts were present. It may seem like overkill, but even this cross-contamination can be enough to trigger an attack.

So what exactly is a peanut allergy? Simply put, this allergy occurs when the body misidentifies peanuts as a potentially harmful substance and triggers the production of various chemicals, including histamines, to fight against it. These chemicals can trigger a range of symptoms from itching and blotching of the skin to nausea and other gastrointestinal distress to difficulty breathing.

This last is where the greatest danger lies, as it can be the first step in the development of anaphylaxis, a life threatening condition. Individuals who are prone to this type of reaction are encouraged to carry an injectable epinephrine device with them at all times. For children who are allergy sensitive, it is important that teachers and school nurses be equipped with these EpiPens in the case of an emergency.

Because peanut allergy can be so serious, it should never be taken lightly. Always make sure you take every precaution and if you have any doubt about the peanut content of a food being offered to you, you are better off refusing it. Pay close attention to food labels and don’t ever assume that a food is safe until you have thoroughly investigated it.

Having an allergy to peanuts or other food can make life a bit more complicated, but it is something that you can learn to live with. By taking the proper precautions and always keeping the necessary medications handy, you can prevent any tragic consequences. Just remember that the humble peanut is nothing to laugh about; for some sensitive individuals it can be a deadly threat.

Wishing you the best of health


Updated 08/29/20121


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