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
The Allergy Store