Peanut Allergy: Facts to Remember
As we know, the peanut allergy can be an extremely dangerous
and even life-threatening condition. In addition, both direct and indirect
contact with peanuts can evoke a devastating allergic reaction. Below is the
official statement offered by the Mayo
Clinic describing the possibilities:
occurs when your immune system mistakenly identifies peanut proteins as
something harmful. When you have direct or indirect contact with peanuts, your
immune system releases symptom-causing chemicals into your bloodstream. It
isn't known exactly why some people become allergic to peanuts and others
Exposure to peanuts
can occur in different ways:
contact. The most common cause of peanut allergy is eating peanuts or
peanut-containing foods. Sometimes direct skin contact with peanuts can trigger
an allergic reaction.
This is the unintended introduction of peanuts into a product. It's generally
the result of a food being exposed to peanuts during processing or handling.
An allergic reaction may occur if you inhale dust or aerosols containing
peanuts, such as that of peanut flour or peanut oil cooking spray."
In addition to this information, the Mayo Clinic also
offers information regarding all the different aspects of diagnosing and
treating a peanut allergy. To help parents prepare for the initial visit to
their child's pediatrician, the website suggests the following:
Write down any symptoms you've had, including
any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the
Write down key personal information, including
any major stresses or recent life changes.
Make a list of all medications, vitamins or
supplements you're taking.
Take a family member or friend along, if possible.
Sometimes it can be difficult to recall all the information provided to you
during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that
you missed or forgot.
Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Click on this link for suggested questions to ask your
If you think your child may have a peanut allergy, it is
of course important to be as informed as possible. Below is the Mayo Clinic's list of current methods your
doctor may use to help accurately diagnose a peanut allergy:
Description of your symptoms. Be prepared
to tell your doctor about your symptoms - such as exactly what happened after
you ate peanuts, how long it took for a reaction to occur, and what amount of
peanuts or food containing peanuts caused your reaction.
Physical examination. A careful exam can
identify or exclude other medical problems.
Food diary. Your doctor may ask you to
keep a food diary of your eating habits, symptoms and medications to pinpoint
Elimination diet. If it isn't clear that
peanuts are the culprit, or if your doctor suspects you may have a reaction to
more than one type of food, an elimination diet may be needed. You may be asked
to eliminate peanuts or other suspect foods for a week or two, and then add the
food items back into your diet one at a time. This process can help link
symptoms to specific foods. If you've had a severe reaction to foods, this
method can't safely be used.
Skin test. A skin *** test can
determine your reaction to particular foods. In this test, small amounts of
suspected foods are placed on the skin of your forearm or back. Your skin is
then pricked with a needle, to allow a tiny amount of the substance beneath
your skin surface. If you're allergic to a particular substance being tested,
you develop a raised bump or reaction.
Blood test. A blood test can measure your
immune system's response to particular foods by checking the amount of
allergy-type antibodies in your bloodstream, known as immunoglobulin E (IgE)
antibodies. For this test, a blood sample taken in your doctor's office is sent
to a medical laboratory, where different foods can be tested. However, these
blood tests aren't always accurate.
Once diagnosed, it is important
to follow your doctor recommendations in order to keep your child safe.
Unfortunately, "there's no definitive
treatment for peanut allergy, but desensitization is showing promise.
Desensitization involves giving children with peanut allergies increasing doses
of peanut flour or peanut extract over time. Studies have shown promise in
desensitizing children to peanuts. More study is needed", as noted by the Mayo Clinic. The site continues on to decipher between various reactions
and how to treat them:
For a minor allergic reaction, over-the-counter or prescribed
antihistamines may help reduce symptoms. These drugs can be taken after
exposure to peanuts to help relieve itching or hives. However, antihistamines
aren't enough to treat a severe allergic reaction.
For a severe allergic reaction, you may need an emergency injection of
epinephrine and a trip to the emergency room. Many people with allergies carry
an epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen, Twinject). This device is a combined
syringe and concealed needle that injects a single dose of medication when
pressed against your thigh. (Also, make sure you know how to properly use
Please write in
with any additional questions and/or comments about your experiences
with the peanut
I hope that the last two months has offered
parents and therapists solid information
regarding dairy and peanut allergies. It is
important to be informed so that we can keep
our own children and the children we work
Being informed may be your best defense
against an actual allergic reaction.
Join me throughout the month of August for
exciting new summer recipes!