Peanut allergy is not the most common food allergy, but it is the most common food associated with severe allergic reactions.
Diagnosing food allergy begins with identifying a history of sensitivity to certain foods. Many people who have peanut allergy have chronic symptoms such as:
- Stomach upset
- Skin itching
Some people with severe peanut allergy who have an accidental exposure to peanuts have immediate reactions such as:
- Mouth or throat itching
- Severe systemic reaction called anaphylaxis
Testing for peanut allergy can be done through a food challenge with peanuts, a skin test with peanut extract or a blood test. We recommend testing food allergy with a blood test because some people are sensitive to even the smallest amount of peanut used in skin testing. New “component” blood tests can help identify which patients are more susceptible to life threatening reactions.
The amount of peanut that can trigger an allergic reaction may be a few grams (several peanuts) or a few milligrams (hidden or trace amounts in a food). Treatment for peanut allergy with sublingual immunotherapy begins at a much lower level than the amount that triggers reactions. This small amount placed under the tongue is enough for the immune system to learn to tolerate peanuts, yet is below the level which triggers a reaction.
If you are allergic to peanuts, it is usually best to limit the amount of peanut in your diet. If you have a severe peanut allergy, it may be necessary to avoid peanuts completely.
The goal of sublingual immunotherapy treatment is to balance safety and efficacy. Our sublingual immunotherapy treatment protocol for peanut allergy is very safe. Our treatment goal for those who are highly sensitive is to decrease the risk of severe reactions with accidental exposure to peanut.