Every year in the United States millions of people have an
allergic reaction to something they ate or drank. Often the
reaction is so mild that it is mistaken for something else.
People think they’re just coming down with something or had
one too many drinks. However, some food allergies can be
quite severe and can even be fatal. It has been estimated
that somewhere around 6% of children have some kind of
serious food allergy.
Why allergic reactions take place is still something of a
mystery. Ordinarily, one of the ways that your immune system
responds to toxic substances in the body by releasing
histamines into the bloodstream. These chemicals rapidly
travel to the skin, lungs, intestines, eyes and nose to
fight off the invader. Sometimes this reaction takes place
in response to a food or chemical that is completely benign
and the overreaction by your body can cause a fatal shutdown
of some key systems in your body.
Peanuts are one of the top foods identified by the Center
For Disease Control in its list of the top 8 allergies in
the United States. These 8 food groups account for 90% of
the allergic reaction to food in America. Over 3 million
people have been identified as allergic to peanuts and an
allergic reaction to peanuts the most common cause of food
When someone has an allergic reaction to peanuts, the
symptoms can range from mild discomfort to life-threatening.
Within minutes of consuming food containing peanuts you may
feel itchy skin, tingling in the face or lips or even break
out in hives. In more severe cases, symptoms would progress
to vomiting, diarrhea or inability to breath because of
swelling of the airways. The most severe reaction is called
anaphylaxis. This is characterized by the addition of more
severe reactions like low blood pressure, swelling of the
throat and tongue and eventual loss of consciousness. If not
treated quickly, the result can be deadly and this severe
reaction usually only takes a few minutes after ingesting
food containing peanuts.
Most allergies are detected by a skin test. Your doctor
will make a tiny prick on your skin with a needle and then a
liquid containing peanuts will be applied to the area. A
couple of days later, if a rash appears that indicates that
your body had a reaction to that substance. There are also
some reliable blood tests that can be performed to test for
allergies. An ELISA test, or “enzyme-linked immunosorbent
assay”, tests for immune responses in the body and is
generally considered to be the most accurate.
If you are one of the many people who have been diagnosed
as allergic to peanuts you should be prepared against
accidentally ingesting foods prepared with peanuts. Usually
an antihistamine like Benedryl is enough to clear up mild
reaction but in cases where there are more severe symptoms
your doctor will likely advise an epinephrine shot along
with the Benadryl and to call 911 for further instructions.