Peanut Allergy

Also known as: food allergy.

What is peanut allergy?

Peanuts are not “nuts” they are actually legumes from the same family as soybeans, peas and lentils. Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies found among children. For children with peanut allergy, even exposure to tiny amounts can cause potentially severe and life-threatening symptoms (anaphylaxis).

What causes peanut allergy?

When a child who is allergic to peanuts is exposed to components within peanuts (for example consuming foods that contain peanuts, inhaling dust from peanut flour or from cooking spray), the body’s immune system mistakenly responds to what it believes to be a harmful substance with chemicals that produce symptoms.

What are the symptoms of peanut allergy?

Common symptoms include rapidly (within a few minutes) occurring nausea, itchiness, hives (small red spots or large welts), a tingling itchy tight throat, a runny or congested nose, and anaphylaxis (a potentially whole body life threatening reaction that presents as an emergency with swelling of the throat, shortness and difficulty breathing, rapid pulse, a sudden drop in blood pressure, pale skin/bluish color to skin, tongue and lips, dizziness, fainting and/or loss of consciousness).

What are peanut allergy care options?

Children (aided by their families, friends, school etc.) who are allergic to peanuts need to take extreme care to avoid peanuts, foods that may have been prepared around peanut products, or with items that came in contact with peanuts.

Children with peanut allergy should always carry epinephrine (e.g. an Epi-Pen injector that injects a single dose of medication) with them to prevent the severe complications of anaphylaxis from occurring.

Desensitizing infants by early exposure to peanuts between the ages of 4-11 months may be effective in preventing peanut allergy.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: May 12, 2021 09:24 AM