How Serious is a Peanut Allergy?
One of the most common types of food allergy is a peanut allergy. It is still unclear why some individuals have peanut allergies and some do not. But in those individuals with this allergy, the body perceives peanuts as something dangerous and this prompts the immune system to respond.
For some people, this allergy can range from a minor irritation to a life-threatening reaction that requires immediate medical attention. Typically, a reaction occurs promptly (around a few minutes) after exposure to peanuts.
Common symptoms can involve:
- Redness or swelling of the skin
- Itching or tingling sensation around the mouth or throat
- Runny nose
These symptoms can be relieved by over-the-counter antihistamines such as Benadryl, Zyretec, etc. Other options are topical anti-itch lotions such as hydrocortisone, Caladryl, etc. Please refer to a healthcare professional to find a product based on your specific symptom.
However, more serious symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the tongue or tightening of the throat
- Slowing of heart rate
- Loss of consciousness or dizziness
- Death if not treated
These symptoms warrant a trip to the emergency room and may require use of epinephrine via an Epipen or Twinject.
If you suspect that you may have a peanut allergy, consult your doctor to confirm with the necessary tests. Unfortunately, there is no currently cure for peanut allergies and an individual’s specific reaction to peanut exposure can change over time. Regardless of the severity, the best course of action to take is to avoid peanuts and informing the appropriate parties of your allergy.