Allergies to peanut are one of the most common and severe types of food allergies. When someone with a peanut allergy ingests peanuts, even a trace amount, that person is at risk of a severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis.
An anaphylactic reaction includes more than one of the body’s systems, such as the respiratory tract, gastrointestinal tract, the skin and cardiovascular symptom. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include tingling in the mouth, swelling of the tongue and throat, itchy skin or hives, difficulty breathing, abdominal cramping and vomiting. In a severe anaphylactic reaction, a person may experience a drop of blood pressure, loss of consciousness and even cardiac arrest and death.
One of the issues in managing peanut allergy is that symptoms can vary. A person may have had minor symptoms, only to suffer anaphylaxis on a subsequent exposure.
Because peanut allergy reactions can be severe, it is important that a person with this allergy carry an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen or Twinject) with them at all times. Peanut allergy is often considered a lifelong allergy, but research has shown up to 20 per cent of children may outgrow it by the time they reach school-age.*
*Source: 2010 FA primer. JACI
In the United States, the rate of peanut allergy in children increased by 3.5 times from 1997 to 2008, to a rate of 1.4 per cent. In Canada, it is estimated that 1.68 per cent of children and 0.71 per cent of adults have peanut allergy.
More on Peanut Allergy Statistics
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