By: Stephanie Shabangu, Penfield Children’s Center
Reviewed by: Kelsey Sorvick, RN, Penfield Children’s Center
According to the Mayo Clinic, a peanut allergy is one of the most common causes for a severe allergy attack. Reactions to peanut exposure for those who are allergic can range from a mild runny nose to anaphylaxis (a life-threatening reaction that can cause the throat to tighten and the person to have trouble breathing).
If your child has a peanut allergy, he is most likely to have a reaction within minutes of ingesting a peanut or food that contains peanut oil.
Symptoms can include:
- Hives or other skin reaction
- Runny nose
- Trouble breathing
If you believe your child may have a peanut allergy, it is important to have him tested by a medical professional. In most cases, the doctor, nurse or allergist will do a blood test or a skin prick test to diagnose a peanut allergy. During a skin prick test, a drop of solution that contains the allergen is put on the child’s back. A small plastic probe is then placed on the back to prick the skin so that the allergen is able to enter the skin. This test might sound a bit scary, but it is usually not painful and does not cause bleeding. Within 30 minutes of the test, results will appear. If a bump appears, surrounded by a small rash, this may indicate that your child is allergic to peanuts. If no reaction occurs, your child probably does not have a peanut allergy.
What causes peanut allergies?
While we don’t know what causes one child to get an allergy over another, there are certain risk factors that make developing a peanut allergy more likely. These include a family history of allergies, if your child has eczema, the age of your child (babies and infants suffer from food allergies the most) and if your child has other allergies, such as hay fever.
My child was recently diagnosed with a peanut allergy. How do I keep him safe?
If your child does have a peanut allergy, don’t panic! He can still eat a variety of foods and enjoy a healthy diet. It’s important to always keep an EpiPen on hand in case of a severe allergic reaction. In addition, reading food labels and making restaurants aware that your child has a peanut allergy can help reduce exposure. With the rise of peanut allergies these days, most restaurants can put an “allergy alert” on your child’s order and make sure to prepare food in a way that avoids any contact with peanuts and peanut oils. Finally, schools and childcare centers can help keep your child safe by declaring “peanut-free” zones in classrooms your child frequents and in the cafeteria.
Living with a peanut allergy can be frustrating, but with a bit of extra care and preparation, your child can enjoy his favorite foods alongside his friends who don’t have peanut allergies.
If your child is allergic to peanuts, what steps have you taken to reduce his/her exposure to the allergen?