(Allergy, Peanut; Nut Allergy; Allergy, Nut)
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
A peanut allergy is an abnormal response to peanuts. It can be mild or deadly.
It can happen when a person is exposed to peanut proteins. The body mistakes the proteins as being harmful. This makes the immune system send chemicals into the blood that cause the response to happen.
Exposure to peanuts can happen by:
Peanut allergy often starts when a person is a child. It may also start or carry on when a person is an adult. Things that may put you at risk are:
Problems may be:
Anaphylaxis is a response that can be deadly. It may cause:
You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
You will be tested with a:
You may need to see a doctor who treats allergies.
People with a severe response may need medical care right away.
A mild peanut allergy can be managed. Options are:
The best way to manage this allergy is to avoid peanuts, foods with peanuts, and foods that may have been around peanuts. Always read food labels. Do this even if you do not think a food has peanuts in it. Most labels will state whether the factory where a food was made also works with peanuts. Always ask for the items in homemade foods to check peanuts or peanut oil. Ask if the item was made with kitchen tools that have come in contact with peanuts.
Medicine can ease symptoms. It should only be taken if a person is exposed to peanuts by accident. They may be:
People with severe reactions may need epinephrine. It is injected into the thigh. It needs to be carried at all times.
To lower the chance of peanut allergy:
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
Food Allergy Research & Education
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1/2/2014 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance https://www.dynamed.com/condition/peanut-allergy: Frazier A, Camargo C, Malspeis S, Willett WC, Young MC. Prospective study of peripregnancy consumption of peanuts or tree nuts by mothers and the risk of peanut or tree nut allergy in their offspring. JAMA Pediatr. 2013;168(2):156-162.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Dianne Rishikof, MS, RDN, LDN, IFNCP
Last Updated: 6/3/2020
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