What is a peanut allergy?
A peanut allergy is an adverse response or overreaction of the body’s immune system to the proteins in peanuts or products that contain peanuts. When a peanut is eaten, the body sees the peanut proteins as a foreign invader, sending out chemicals to defend against it. Those chemicals are what cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
👥 How common is it?
A peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies.
🥜 What is a peanut?
Unlike tree nuts which grow on trees, peanuts grow underground and are part of the legume family – thus the name peanut. They are also commonly known as monkey nuts or ground nuts. Despite being part of the legume family, having a peanut allergy does not mean you will also be allergic to legumes like lentils or beans.
Symptoms of Peanut Allergy
An allergic reaction to peanuts can bring on many symptoms. These include hives or a skin rash; nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting and/or diarrhoea; stuffy or runny nose, headaches, and asthma.
Although less common, some allergy sufferers are also at risk of having a potentially life-threatening anaphylaxis reaction. In extreme cases there could be a dramatic fall in blood pressure, the person may become weak and floppy, and may have a sense of something terrible is happening. This may lead to collapse and unconsciousness. On rare occasions, death can occur.
It is important to be able to recognize and manage reactions quickly in order to prevent serious health consequences. The first line of action for anaphylaxis is the timely use of epinephrine which is available by prescription in a self-injectable device.
If you are concerned that you or your child may have an allergy, you should consult with a medical professional or a Registered Nutritionist or Dietitian. If your child is diagnosed with an allergy, it’s important to inform all people involved in the child’s care. This includes their nursery, school, and after-school clubs, as well as grandparents, relatives, and the parents of their school friends.
Managing a Peanut Allergy
🛒 Store bought food
Strictly avoid peanuts and any peanut containing foods such as peanut butter, peanut oil, nougat, and granola bars.
Be aware of foods that may contain peanut, such as some candies, cookies, bakery products, cereals, and ice-creams. Your allergist will give you individualized information regarding the avoidance of statements such as “may contain”, “produced in a factory”, “produced on the same line etc”.
🍽 Eating out
If you are in a restaurant or eating food that you haven’t prepared yourself, then ensure you ask about the ingredients first. If you do have a tree nut allergy, it is important to keep an epinephrine auto-injector with you at all times.
- 🇺🇸 For more information on Peanut Allergy in the USA
- 🇬🇧 For more information on Peanut Allergy in the UK
Please note: This Spoon Guru Fact Sheet should be used as a source of information only. It should not be used as a replacement to nutritional advice from an accredited medical professional.