Peanut allergy is a type of food allergy that occurs when the body's immune system mistakenly identifies peanuts as a harmful substance and mounts an immune response. Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies and is often present from early childhood.
Symptoms of a peanut allergy can range from mild to severe and can occur within a few minutes to a few hours after consuming peanuts or a product containing peanuts. Mild symptoms may include skin rashes, hives, and itching. More severe symptoms may include difficulty breathing, throat tightening, and a drop in blood pressure, which can lead to shock and potentially be life-threatening. This type of severe reaction is known as anaphylaxis.
The exact cause of peanut allergy is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to genetics and environmental factors. People who have a family history of allergies or have other allergies, such as asthma or eczema, may be more likely to develop a peanut allergy.
The best way to prevent a reaction to peanuts is to avoid consuming them and products that contain peanuts. This can be challenging, as peanuts and peanut products are commonly found in a variety of foods, including baked goods, cereals, and snack foods. It is important to read food labels carefully and to be aware of potential cross-contamination, where peanuts or peanut products may come into contact with other foods during the manufacturing process.
If you or someone in your care has a peanut allergy, it is important to have an action plan in place in case of a reaction. This may include carrying an epinephrine injector (also known as an epi-pen) and wearing a medical alert bracelet or necklace. It is also important to inform friends, family, and caregivers about the allergy and to be prepared to seek medical attention if a reaction occurs. There is currently no cure for peanut allergy, and the only way to prevent a reaction is to avoid peanuts and products containing peanuts. However, there are several treatments available to manage reactions and reduce the severity of symptoms. These may include antihistamines to relieve allergy symptoms and epinephrine to treat severe reactions.
If you need help in diagnosing and managing your peanut allergy, make an appointment in Sandra A. Ho, MD at Avant Allergy in Los Angeles today.