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Peanut Allergy


Disease: Peanut Allergy Peanut Allergy
Category: Allergies
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Disease Definition:

Peanut allergy is common in the first years of life. An allergic reaction to peanuts could range from a minor irritation to anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening reaction. While several children outgrow allergies to other foods like milk or eggs, most kids do not outgrow peanut allergy as they get older. Even people who have had only a mild reaction in the past might be in danger of a stronger reaction in future. So when a child or adult has a minor reaction to peanut allergy, they should inform their doctor about it.
Tests could help confirm a peanut allergy, so steps could be taken to prevent future and possibly worse reactions.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


After exposure to peanuts, an allergic reaction often appears within minutes, and the signs and symptoms range from mild stomach or skin reactions to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that could constrict the airways preventing breathing.

Peanut allergy could have the following signs and symptoms:


  • Tightening of the chest
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Itching or tingling in or around the mouth and throat
  • Skin reactions like hives, redness or swelling
  • Breathlessness or wheezing
  • Digestive problems like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or stomach cramps


The most common reason for the occurrence of anaphylaxis is peanut allergy, requiring a medical emergency treatment with an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) and a trip to the emergency room. Signs and symptoms begin right after consumption of peanuts and could include:


  • Rapid pulse
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or loss of consciousness
  • Constriction of airways, such as a swollen throat that makes it hard to breathe
  • Shock, with a severe drop in blood pressure


When the immune system mistakenly identifies the proteins as something harmful, in this case peanuts, it growss allergy-type antibodies to peanut proteins, and the person develops peanut allergy. In such case, the next encounter with peanuts would make these antibodies recognize them and signal the immune system to release chemicals, like histamine, into the bloodstream that contribute to the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction. Why some people are allergic to peanuts while others are not is still not clear.

There are three ways that a person can be exposed to peanuts:

Direct contact:
Occasionally, direct skin contact with peanuts could trigger an allergic reaction. Eating peanuts or peanut-containing foods is the most common cause of peanut allergy.

when a person inhales dust or aerosols containing peanuts, like that of peanut flour or peanut oil cooking spray, he/she may develop an allergic reaction.

This is the unintended introduction of peanuts into a product. It is usually caused by exposure to peanuts throughout processing or handling of a food product.

While it is uncertain why some people grow allergies and others do not, people with certain risk factors have a greater chance of developing peanut allergy, such as:

Family members with allergies:
When having family members with peanut or other kinds of food allergies, the person’s risk of developing peanut allergy will increase.

Past allergy to peanuts:
About one in five children with peanut allergy outgrow it. Yet, even when someone appears to have outgrown peanut allergy, it might recur.

Based on the fact that the likelihood of developing allergies is more common in urban children than rural ones, the “hygiene hypothesis” proposes that the exposure of children to several microbes or allergy-causing substances at an early age might develop immune systems that are more tolerant and less likely to react to peanut or other potential allergens. The number of children with allergies, including peanut allergy, is steadily increasing for unknown reasons. The raised incidence of peanut allergy might reflect a high awareness and reporting of food allergies or changes in the way peanut are processed as suggested by other experts.





Avoiding peanuts and peanut proteins altogether is the only way to prevent an allergic response. But peanuts are common and one is likely to come across peanuts at any point during their lifetime. It is essential to be prepared for a severe reaction, even though most reactions to peanuts are not life-endangering. An emergency injection of adrenaline (epinephrine) and going to the emergency room are necessary in the case of an anaphylactic reaction. A person at risk of a severe reaction should carry with him/her injectable epinephrine at all times.

Drugs like antihistamines might decrease the mild symptoms of peanut allergy. When exposed to peanuts, these medications could be administered to help relieve itching or hives. However, severe and life-threatening reactions can’t be treated with antihistamines.


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