Having an allergy to peanut is commonly seen during the first years of life. Although unlike other food allergies such as milk, most people will not outgrow peanut allergy.
An allergic reaction to peanut, known as anaphylaxis, can manifest as minor or sever symptoms. It can show up as a minor irritation of the skin or it can develop into a more serious reaction such as constricting and blocking the airway for breathing. It is also possible that minor reactions in the past can lead to a more life-threatening reaction.
Peanut allergy will show up almost immediately after exposure. Eating peanuts or foods containing peanuts can trigger a reaction. Also, skin contact may bring about this effect. It can also occur if you inhale dust particles or aerosols containing peanuts. You may also be at an increased risk of developing peanut allergy if other family members have food allergies.
Common signs and symptoms include itching around the throat and mouth, skin irritation such as redness, hives or swelling. Antihistamines can be taken for these minor reactions. Other common symptoms may include stuffy or runny nose, stomach cramps and diarrhea.
Peanut allergy becomes an emergency if signs of anaphylaxis are present, such as chest tightness, breathing difficulties from airway constriction, rapid pulse, shock (extreme drop in blood pressure), dizziness or loss of consciousness. This situation requires a trip to the emergency room if no epinephrine injector, such as an EpiPen or Twinject, is readily available.
There are tests, such as a skin prick test or blood test, which can be done at your physician’s office to determine if you or a child has peanut allergy. This way, you can take the proper steps to avoid future reactions. If you have a peanut allergy, you must avoid foods that contain peanuts, read food labels carefully and have an epinephrine injector nearby at all times.