One of the most talked about food allergies is peanut. Though not the most common food allergy, it’s the most common food associated with severe allergic reactions – so it’s an important one to be educated on.
Consider this overview on peanut allergy: from symptoms, diagnosis, and avoiding peanuts, to options for treating the cause.
Peanut allergy symptoms
With any allergy – especially food allergies – reactions can vary widely from person to person. Reactions may also vary for each individual, because the severity of one reaction does not predict the severity of the next. A mild reaction after one exposure does not mean that you will always react mildly.
Mild peanut allergy symptoms include:
- Stomach upset
- Skin itching
Severe peanut allergy symptoms include:
- Mouth or throat itching
If you or your child have a severe reaction, it’s critical to call 911 or go to an emergency room and then follow-up with an allergy provider. Those with minor reactions should also be evaluated by an allergy provider to receive proper treatment and medication.
An allergy provider can provide an allergy test – typically an IgE blood test – to determine your level of sensitivity to peanut. They can then develop a treatment plan that often includes epinephrine in case of future accidental exposure, and some may recommend immunotherapy to treat the cause.
Avoiding peanuts altogether can be difficult, as even the smallest amount can trigger reactions for those who are allergic. This is especially difficult when you’re at a restaurant, school, or eating dishes prepared by others.
Choosing processed foods may be a little less challenging. According to the FDA, peanut needs to be labeled on food products. When reviewing a nutrition label, look for peanut directly, and statements like:
- May contain peanuts
- Processed on equipment also used for peanut
- Produced in a facility that processes peanuts
You should also look for ingredients that contain peanut, including:
- Cold-pressed peanut oil
- Mixed nuts
- Peanut butter
- Peanut flour
- Peanut protein hydrolysate
Of course, this list is not all-inclusive. Be sure to check nutrition labels every time, as ingredients can, and frequently do, change.
Treating peanut allergy
One way to add a layer of safety in case of accidental exposure to peanut is to treat the cause of the allergy with immunotherapy. One option is personalized sublingual immunotherapy, or allergy drops, following the La Crosse Method™ Protocol.
Over the course of treatment, patients are slowly and deliberately exposed to their offending allergens – the level of treatment is high enough to build tolerance, but not unnecessarily high to cause reactions. Each prescription should have a slightly increased dose of your offending allergens, teaching your body to slowly tolerate the allergens.
For most patients, this treatment will create a level of safety in case of accidental exposure. For some, it may allow them to reintroduce some foods into their diet.
We encourage you to check out this blog filled with research on using allergy drops for the treatment of peanut allergy.