Diseases

Peanut Allergy – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Peanut allergy

The peanut allergy is a type I food allergy, which means that the symptoms appear immediately after consumption.

What is a peanut allergy?

Peanuts belong to the legume family and are excellent sources of minerals. However, a peanut allergy is one of the most serious food allergies. Even a very small amount can cause an allergic reaction. Those affected then suffer from dizziness , nausea, redness of the skin or tachycardia .

causes

In the case of an allergy, the body’s own defenses are directed against substances that are normally harmless. Sensitization occurs on first contact and the immune system forms antibodies against the allergen. If you come into contact with it again, you will have an allergic reaction. Triggers for an allergic reaction are so-called Ara-h allergens, which bind to IgE antibodies. This releases inflammatory mediators.

The antibodies attach themselves to basophilic granulocytes or mast cells. The next time they come into contact with the allergen, the cells release histamine or other substances. Mast cells are found in every body tissue and they are also responsible for allergic reactions. Basophilic granulocytes are among the white blood cells. As soon as the allergen gets into the circulatory system, the granulocytes react, which primarily affects the blood vessels.

Eating a small amount of peanuts is enough for a severe reaction, and in some cases skin contact is enough to cause a rash. Allergies are often genetic. So if a parent suffers from a peanut allergy, it is possible that this will also occur in the child. The risk is even greater if both parents are allergic. Another cause is excessive hygiene, since the immune system is understrained and looks for another target.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

A peanut allergy causes symptoms in the digestive system, respiratory tract, skin and cardiovascular system. The general symptoms include restlessness , feelings of panic , watery eyes and swelling of the mucous membranes in the throat or mouth. However, a slowed or accelerated heart rate, headaches or impaired consciousness can also occur in connection with a peanut allergy.

This is often noticeable through frequent sneezing, stuffy nose and coughing , asthma attacks and wheezing . It can also cause nausea , abdominal cramps and diarrhea . Redness , wheals or eczema form on the skin ; in the worst case , a peanut allergy can lead to anaphylactic shock .

Anaphylaxis is life-threatening, so in the event of an anaphylactic shock, the emergency doctor must be informed immediately. In order to avoid a possible circulatory collapse , it is important to put your feet up until the doctor arrives.

Diagnose

As part of an anamnesis, the doctor first finds out about the patient’s eating habits, allergies within the family, the mental state of the person concerned and any previous illnesses.

In order to determine an allergy, the so-called skin prick test is very often carried out, in which potential allergens are applied to the skin. If allergic reactions appear after about thirty minutes, then a potential allergen is present.

Another diagnostic option is a blood test , in which the total concentration of antibodies in the blood is examined. These antibodies are responsible for triggering an allergic reaction.

In the provocation test, the doctor administers the allergens intranasally or orally to the subject, but very severe reactions can occur here, so that this test should never be carried out on your own. In some cases, the rub test is also used, in which the allergen is rubbed onto the skin in order to be able to determine any reactions.

complications

Peanut allergies can lead to a variety of complications. These occur primarily directly after eating the peanuts and can therefore be identified immediately. The complications are very varied and can affect the lungs, eyes and digestion . Usually there is watery eyes, a rising panic and swelling in the mouth.

Most often, these symptoms are accompanied by headache and dizziness . If a large amount of peanuts has been ingested, the peanut allergy can also lead to shock. In this case, treatment by a doctor is necessary. With mild allergies, the symptoms usually go away on their own. Swelling should also be checked out by a doctor.

Due to the peanut allergy, the patient’s diet is restricted so that he is no longer allowed to eat peanuts. However, this only affects a small fraction of the possible foods available to the patient. If a peanut allergy occurs, treatment can be carried out with the help of medication.

The symptoms disappear completely after a few hours without any further complications. If the peanut allergy occurs for the first time, it is necessary to consult a doctor. The patient should also test for other allergies and intolerances to avoid complications. These include other legumes in particular.

When should you go to the doctor?

At the first suspicion of a peanut allergy, those affected should consult a doctor, preferably an allergist , because in some people even small amounts of peanuts are enough to trigger severe allergic reactions such as anaphylactic shock.

Since peanuts are also found in many products where you would not expect them at first glance, it is important that the doctor informs these people about the allergy and its risks and that they are given an emergency kit with an antihistamine, cortisone and adrenaline that always have to carry them with you so that you can react quickly in an emergency.

Since some people react to different allergens, a skin prick test is done, and possibly a blood test, since a combination of allergies increases the risk of possible complications. At the doctor’s, those affected are also given comprehensive information about foods that contain peanuts or traces of them, and they usually also receive nutritional advice from trained specialists, since the treatment of a peanut allergy consists largely of avoiding the allergen in everyday life, and others To inform people about the allergy in situations that can promote an allergic reaction. The doctor also informs the relatives how to behave in an emergency.

Treatment & Therapy

An allergy to peanuts cannot be cured, but there are various measures to be able to live with this disease. Basically, it is necessary to avoid peanuts or products that contain them. This is not always easy, because many foods and cosmetics contain traces of it. Special caution is also required with glue, bath oils, soaps, vitamin preparations or linoleum.

In medical treatment, those affected also receive glucocorticoids and antihistamines . Nutritional therapy with an appropriate specialist is also recommended. It is important that those affected or their relatives are well informed so that the first symptoms can be recognized quickly. Peanuts belong to the legumes. Some people who are allergic to peanuts are therefore also allergic to beans or soy or to tree nuts such as pistachios, almonds or hazelnuts.

Outlook & Forecast

Peanut allergy, like most allergies, cannot be cured. As with almost all allergies to food, the “allergy vaccination” is also not an option. Desensitization does not improve peanut allergy. The patient will therefore have an allergic reaction to peanuts for the rest of their lives and must exercise caution, because peanut allergens are among the substances that can cause particularly severe symptoms, including dangerous anaphylactic shock with fatal consequences.

However, it may be that the peanut allergy changes over the course of life – the affected person usually reacts even more violently to contact with peanuts than before. The peanut allergy is often very severe anyway, so those affected can expect severe symptoms if they eat peanuts. If they don’t have an Epi-Pen with them and come into contact with peanuts, severe reactions can result in the patient’s death if no one can help them in time.

Furthermore, cross-allergies can develop over the course of life , which occur together with the peanut allergy – this does not have to happen, but it is also not possible to predict a point in time or name factors that favor the development of cross-allergies. It is all the more important that those affected know the most common cross-allergies in connection with their peanut allergy so that they can recognize symptoms quickly.

prevention

An allergic reaction to peanuts can be prevented by avoiding products that contain peanuts. These include, for example, cornflakes, salty biscuits, muesli, chocolate bars or fried products. But cold-pressed oils can also contain peanut residue. Refined oils are usually well tolerated and pumpkin seeds are also a very good alternative if you have a peanut allergy.

Since 2005, foods containing peanuts must be labeled accordingly. Those affected should therefore read the small print on the packaging carefully, and it is also advisable to always have an emergency kit with you that contains syringes containing cortisone , adrenaline and an antihistamine.

However, loose goods from the bakery are exempt from this allergen labeling regulation, so that one is dependent on the information from the seller. Organic products should be preferred as they contain fewer additives. There are also shops on the Internet that offer products for people with peanut allergies.

aftercare

A peanut allergy is often diagnosed in childhood. Otherwise, this diagnosis is made by going into anaphylactic shock after eating a peanut. Since peanuts are an acute danger to life for someone with a peanut allergy, prevention is far more important than aftercare.

There is a high risk of peanut allergy in children who have numerous skin eczema and are also allergic to chicken eggs. However, such children may only be given peanut products if they do not already suffer from a peanut allergy.

After an anaphylactic shock from peanuts in childhood, the preventive measures are also aftercare measures. After the acute treatment, the family is advised to strictly avoid foods containing peanuts and an emergency kit is provided. This may include drugs such as antihistamines, Jext-Anapen, Infectodexa Krupp, as well as salbutamol with a breathing mask. These supplements can be life-saving in the event of accidental ingestion of products containing peanuts.

The aftercare mainly consists of the care of the parents and the sensitization of the social environment for this problem. Children can’t take care of themselves yet.

You can do that yourself

Those affected by a peanut allergy have no concrete options for counteracting the effects of their allergy in everyday life with everyday remedies. This is limited to carrying an emergency kit and avoiding the allergen . However, it is possible for those affected to convey their own needs to the environment in a targeted manner and to gain added value from the avoidance behavior with regard to food.

It is important that those affected communicate in situations in which they could come into contact with the allergen that they must avoid it at all costs. It shouldn’t be around. If this is met with incomprehension or even resistance, a simple explanation (also with the help of the emergency kit) can be used to remedy the situation.

Communicating with friends, family, and possibly employers, makes it easier to move safely in an environment full of food. There are positives to avoiding many products that may contain traces of peanuts. The person concerned should feel encouraged to try new foods. By acquiring a broad knowledge of risky and low-risk foods, he can also decide faster and better what to eat.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.