Getting educated on peanut allergies
Peanuts are a common food ingredient, but they're also quite controversial. With allergic reactions to peanuts running as high as 4% in the general population, there's a lot of interest in ensuring people know how to handle the little nuts. This post will take an in-depth look at specific types and sources of allergies and what you should know about them. It'll also cover what you can do if you find yourself developing some symptoms that may be related to an allergy.
What are the different types of peanut allergy?
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, there are three main types of food allergies: IgE-mediated, non-IgE-mediated, and mixed or undefined. With IgE-mediated allergies, your immune system reacts directly to specific foods with a histamine release that causes itching, redness, blisters, or hives. In non-IgE-mediated food allergies, your immune system may recognize the foods as potential invaders and release antibodies that trigger allergic reactions. A mixed or undefined allergy is when your system reacts to food, but you don't know what that is. Either way, understanding what foods cause allergies and how they react can be incredibly helpful when it comes to avoiding them.
What are some common sources of peanut allergy?
They all stem from peanuts being a legume, which means they're related to peas and lentils. Peanut allergies occur more frequently than most other legume-related allergies, though, and are widely known because of the high protein content. Peanuts are much different than most legumes in that they can't be digested by our bodies and have to pass through the digestive tract whole. This means they're going to feed certain bacteria in your intestines, and that's where the problems begin. If our guts aren't balanced with proper amounts of bacteria, we can develop sensitivities to foods that wouldn't otherwise pose a threat.
Common sources of peanut allergy besides peanuts themselves include:
Almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecan nuts, walnuts, and pistachios are all legumes containing large amounts of protein that can trigger the release of histamines. If you have one of these allergies from any other source besides peanuts, you may develop a peanut allergy as well.
Crackers, cookies and pastries
These all contain large amounts of peanuts and other nuts, which can trigger allergic reactions.
These are one of the biggest sources of peanut allergy, as soy and legumes, in general, contain large levels of protein. Other common legumes include beans like kidney beans, black beans, and lima beans. Soy-based products like soy milk and tofu can also trigger reactions to peanut allergies.
Candy is often made out of nuts and can contain traces of peanuts that may cause allergic reactions.
When your pets eat foods that contain large amounts of peanuts, the protein can trigger a chain reaction in your body and cause an allergic reaction as well. This doesn't happen often, but it's a good idea to pay attention to pet food ingredients if you have a peanut allergy.
What are the most common signs of a peanut allergy?
These symptoms can range in severity from mild symptoms such as hives and itching to severe reactions like lung failure. If you begin showing signs of a reaction to peanuts, you should seek medical attention immediately:
Hives and rashes
This is one of the most common symptoms of an allergic reaction. It's caused by histamine release in your body that triggers an inflammatory response.
This symptom is widespread and can cause itching in various parts of the body.
This is caused by histamine release that prompts vomiting.
This is caused by histamine release from your lungs, causing your nose to run. It's also a sign of allergy-induced asthma. If you develop symptoms like this, you should try to stay home and limit any exposure as much as possible.
This is another way that peanut allergies can cause respiratory problems. Your lungs may constrict, leading to difficulty breathing and congestion.
If you have an allergic reaction due to a severe reaction, or if your symptoms are progressing to cause hypovolemic shock, you could have a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis. This is caused by histamine release in your body and occurs when you're already having a severe sensitive reaction. It needs fast medical attention and can be fatal without treatment. Symptoms include swelling, shortness of breath, vomiting, hives, and even fainting.
What should I do if I'm allergic to peanut?
More than 80% of people who have a peanut allergy are non-IgE-mediated, which means you don't experience symptoms immediately as a result of histamine release. Instead, your body has a delayed response to the food. If these reactions become severe and the symptoms aren't responding to treatment, you should get medical attention right away. If you doubt whether you have a peanut allergy or whether eating peanuts would cause an allergic reaction, ask your doctor. If they say yes, that's a good indication that you need to stop eating peanuts. If you have a peanut allergy, you should instead eat tree nuts, shellfish, seafood, eggs, and peanuts cooked or diluted.
If you don't have a peanut allergy but are worried about being allergic to peanuts, try this: Eat the skin of peanuts after peeling. You can also eat boiled peanuts or mash them with mayonnaise to help with the smell. If you experience any symptoms like problems breathing or mayonnaise-related nausea, stop eating peanuts immediately. If you don't experience any of those symptoms, you should continue eating peanuts. If you experience a negative reaction, consider going to the doctor for testing to determine whether you're allergic to peanuts or have an intolerance.
It's possible to develop a peanut allergy from other sources, just as it's possible to develop an allergy to tree nuts. The list of other foods that could cause a reaction is extensive, so you should be sure to ask your doctor like ENT Doctor in Philadelphia before adding any new foods to your diet. If you have a peanut allergy and are unsure of what types of food trigger allergies in you, you should speak with your doctor about the safest way for you to react.