Peanut Allergy - Symptoms, causes and treatment

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Peanut Allergy - Symptoms, causes and treatment
Peanut Allergy - Symptoms, causes and treatment

Peanut allergy is the body's reaction that occurs when consuming nuts or peanut-based foods. These reactions can include itching on the skin, sneezing, vomiting, and diarrhea

Peanuts are one of the best foods to eat, because they contain complete nutrients, such as protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Some types of nuts, such as peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, or walnuts, have the same nutritional content.

peanut allergy - alodokter
peanut allergy - alodokter

Peanut allergy is one of the most common types of food allergies experienced by children. However, peanut allergies can also be experienced by adults. Peanut allergy needs to be treated to prevent a more severe allergic reaction, namely anaphylactic shock.

Causes of Peanut Allergy

Peanut allergy occurs when the immune system reacts and perceives peanuts as substances that are harmful to the body (allergens). This reaction then triggers the body to produce a chemical compound called histamine.

The histamine then triggers the appearance of allergy symptoms. Histamine can spread through the blood vessels and affect various body tissues, such as the skin, respiratory tract, and intestines.

A person can develop a peanut allergy if:

  • Eating nuts or foods containing nuts
  • Experiencing direct contact between the skin and nuts, if the sufferer is very sensitive
  • Inhaling the smell of nuts or dust containing nuts, such as peanut flour

There are several groups of people who are at high risk of suffering from peanut allergies, namely:

  • Infants and children, because their digestive system's immune system is still not fully developed
  • Adults who have had a peanut allergy as children or have a family history of peanut allergy
  • People who have allergies to certain foods
  • Sufferers of atopic eczema

Peanut Allergy Symptoms

Allergic reactions that appear are different for each patient, ranging from mild to severe. Symptoms of a peanut allergy usually begin to appear within minutes to hours after the sufferer eats or touches peanuts.

Early symptoms of peanut allergy include:

  • Headache
  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy nose
  • watery eyes
  • Skin feels itchy, red, and a rash appears
  • Swollen lips
  • Discomfort around mouth and throat
  • stomach cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea

When to see a doctor

Immediately consult a doctor if allergy symptoms appear after eating peanuts, even though these symptoms are mild.

You are also recommended to check with your child to the doctor, if there is a history of peanut allergy or other allergies in the family. This action aims to determine whether the child has an allergy to peanuts or certain substances so that allergy symptoms can be prevented.

If you see someone experiencing severe dizziness, shortness of breath, or even loss of consciousness after consuming peanuts, immediately take them to the emergency room of the nearest hospital. These symptoms need to be watched out for because they can be a sign of life-threatening anaphylactic shock.

Peanut Allergy Diagnosis

If you suspect that you have a peanut allergy, consult an allergy specialist immediately. Before undergoing the consultation, you should make notes about the type of food eaten, when allergy symptoms first appeared, the duration of the symptoms, and what has been done to relieve symptoms.

This note is important because the doctor will ask about these things. The doctor will also ask for a family history of allergies and asthma, then perform a physical examination.

If the symptoms are suspected to be caused by allergies, the doctor will perform several allergy tests to determine the cause of the allergy, including:

  • Blood test

    This test is done to check the level of immunoglobulin antibodies in the blood and measure the immune system's response to certain foods.

  • Skin prick test

    In this test, the doctor will prick an area of the skin, then insert a special solution under the surface of the skin and monitor the reaction. appears.

If the cause of the allergy is still unknown through a blood test and a skin prick test, the doctor will perform other tests, such as:

Food elimination

In this examination, the patient is asked not to eat nuts or other foods for a week or two. After that, the patient is allowed to return to his original eating pattern while recording all the food consumed. This method should be carried out under the supervision of a doctor.

Test food (food challenge)

In this test, the doctor will give you food with and without peanut protein content. After that, the doctor will see if the patient has an allergic reaction or not. This test is carried out under the supervision of a doctor so that the patient can be treated immediately if a severe allergic reaction occurs.

Peanut Allergy Treatment

Peanut allergy treatment aims to relieve symptoms that arise and prevent allergic reactions from occurring. The best way to prevent a peanut allergic reaction is to avoid peanuts and products containing peanuts.

If you experience a mild allergic reaction, immediately take an over-the-counter allergy medication, such as chlorpheniramine, to relieve the symptoms that appear. Medication for food allergies can cause drowsiness.

Another treatment for peanut allergy is immunotherapy. This method is carried out by doctors by giving a small amount of allergen to the patient gradually, in order to form the patient's immune system against the allergen.

However, immunotherapy is not widely used because of the risk of causing an anaphylactic reaction. If necessary, immunotherapy should be carried out under the supervision of an allergist.

Treatment of anaphylactic reactions

If you have a history of allergies and are at high risk of developing a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), it is recommended to always carry an epinephrine syringe in the shape of a pen. If an anaphylactic reaction occurs, this drug can be used to prevent a fatal reaction.

Some steps that need to be taken if symptoms of anaphylaxis appear are:

  • Use an epinephrine injection if you have one
  • Seek medical help and make sure someone is always there for you
  • Use an inhaler to relieve shortness of breath if you have an asthma attack

After medical help arrives, the doctor will give oxygen to help breathing, corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, and antihistamines to relieve allergic reactions. If necessary, the doctor will also give another injection of epinephrine.

Intensive treatment will be carried out if the symptoms are very severe. The doctor will monitor the patient's condition until it is stable and the allergy symptoms disappear.

Peanut Allergy Complications

People with peanut allergies are at risk for anaphylactic shock (anaphylaxis) or a severe allergic reaction. The following are some of the symptoms of anaphylaxis:

  • Swelling in the face
  • Difficulty swallowing due to swelling in the throat
  • Shortness of breath due to narrowing of the respiratory tract
  • Heart pounding
  • Blood pressure drops dramatically, triggering shock
  • Unconscious.

This condition is very dangerous and must be treated immediately by a doctor or medical officer.

Peanut Allergy Prevention

The best way to prevent a nut allergy is to avoid peanuts or other types of nut-based foods, such as biscuits, breads, cakes, cereals, jams, and sweets. Some of the steps below can also be done to prevent peanut allergies:

  • Check ingredient labels before buying or consuming packaged foods, to make sure they don't contain nuts or pea protein.
  • Avoid sharing the use of kitchen utensils or cutlery with others, for example the knife used to spread peanut butter.
  • Tell your family, friends or close friends that you have a peanut allergy so they can help you avoid peanuts.
  • Prepare food from home so you don't have to buy food outside whose ingredients are unknown.
  • Ask the ingredients used before ordering food or drinks in restaurants and avoid those containing nuts.
  • Make sure to always carry an injection of epinephrine, just in case a severe allergic reaction occurs.
  • Introduce your baby to peanuts early, to reduce the risk of developing a peanut allergy later in life.

If there is a history of peanut allergy in your family and your child is entering the solids phase, you should consult a pediatrician. Ask the doctor if it is okay to introduce peanut-based foods to your child, or if the child needs to be tested first.

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