Peanuts are one of the most common food allergens that can trigger a severe allergic response. For the vast majority of sufferers, it is a lifelong concern that begins in childhood. It can cause anaphylactic shock that can greatly impair breathing and cause death if ignored. Even minuscule amounts of peanut can cause anaphylaxis. In some cases, inhaling tiny particles or simply touching peanut products can trigger life-threatening complications.
So… What Causes Peanut Allergies in Kids?
The number of kids diagnosed with peanut allergies is rapidly growing. Experts do not have all of the answers, but it is thought to be caused by an overactive immune system and an early introduction to peanut products. Approximately 80% of kids with a peanut allergy experience symptoms the first time they try peanut butter or come in contact with other peanut products. Inefficient levels of vitamin D might also be to blame since it is responsible for bolstering immunity. The immune system is responsible for identifying and battling unsafe substances. When the immune system considers something harmful, it releases histamines that can send the body into anaphylactic shock.
Avoiding Peanuts and Peanut Products
Now that you have an idea of what causes peanut allergies in kids, you likely need advice on avoiding peanut products. Since peanuts are a very popular ingredient in countless prepared foods, it is important to read labels. Laws state that manufacturers must disclose the use of peanuts, even if they are not intentionally added to food preparations. Although tree nuts are different from peanuts, it may be wise to avoid them as well since they are often a problem for those with peanut allergies. Dining in restaurants and at private gatherings can be particularly dangerous since cross-contamination is a major concern for those with peanut allergies. A peanut allergy should be brought to the attention of friends, relatives, party hosts, food servers, school administrators, and anyone else that prepares or handles food.
Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction to Peanuts
No matter what causes peanut allergies in kids and no matter how careful food handlers are, it is important to learn the symptoms of an allergic reaction to peanuts. The symptoms range from mild to potentially deadly. Minor signs of a peanut allergy may include mild tingling of the lips, tongue, and/or mouth, stomach upset, skin rash, itchiness, and/or a runny nose. Benadryl is often used to treat minor symptoms.
Worsening symptoms may include tightness in the throat, coughing, wheezing, and/or nausea. An epinephrine shot should be administered. When in doubt, use the shot. Keep in mind that symptoms of any degree can occur immediately or hours after exposure. They can also recur, and the condition should be closely monitored.
Signs of Anaphylactic Shock
Signs of anaphylactic shock may include breathing problems, trouble swallowing, swelling of the face, throat, lips, and/or tongue or other body parts, diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, and/or unconsciousness. It is vital to administer a dose of epinephrine and seek immediate medical help.
Even if an initial allergic reaction to peanuts is minor, subsequent reactions can be much worse. Because exposure is often accidental, it is imperative to always carry an epinephrine injector and keep a spare on hand. It is also important to learn how and when to use it. Those at risk should wear a medical alert bracelet and carry an epinephrine injector with clear instructions. Learning what causes peanut allergies in kids and learning ways to avoid it can mean the difference between life and death for those with a peanut allergy.