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Peanut Allergies: Symptoms and Treatment

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Did you know that peanut allergies affect 1 in every 13 children (under 18 years of age) in the United States? Knowing this, introducing peanuts to your child can be scary. If your child has tried peanuts and been diagnosed with a peanut allergy, it can sometimes be overwhelming. Peanuts are all around us at schools, at restaurants or at other people’s houses. For those with peanut allergies, even the tiniest amount could trigger an allergic reaction.

As the number of allergy cases continues to rise, it is important to know the facts about peanut allergies.

Exposure to peanuts can occur in various ways:

  • Direct contact. The most common cause of peanut allergy is eating peanuts or peanut-containing foods. Sometimes direct skin contact with peanuts can trigger a local allergic reaction.
  • Cross-contact. This is the unintended introduction of peanuts into a product. It's generally the result of a food being exposed to peanuts during processing or handling.
  • Inhalation. Rarely an allergic reaction may occur if you inhale dust or aerosols containing peanuts from a source such as peanut flour.

Peanut allergy signs and symptoms can include:

  • Skin reactions, such as hives, redness or swelling
  • Itching or tingling in or around the mouth and throat
  • Digestive problems, such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting
  • Tightening of the throat
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Runny nose

Treating a peanut allergy:

Having various treatment options for children with a peanut allergy offers peace of mind to parents.

The FDA has approved a product called PALFORZIA for desensitization to peanuts. PALFORZIA is a treatment for children age 4-17 who are allergic to peanuts. It can help reduce the severity of allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, that may occur with accidental exposure to peanuts. While PALFOZIA can preemptively help reduce the severity of a reaction, it does not treat an allergic reaction once it occurs.

For a severe allergic reaction, your child may need an emergency injection of epinephrine and to visit the emergency room. Many people with allergies carry an epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen, Auvi-Q or Twinject). This device is a syringe and concealed needle that injects a single dose of medication when pressed against the thigh. It is recommended that any caretakers and children of appropriate age learn to use autoinjectors and practice on a regular basis.

If you are concerned about your child’s peanut allergy, talk with an Ochsner pediatric allergist today.

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