Guard Your Children Against Peanut Allergy
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.
Allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic disease in the United States, costing the health care system $18 billion annually. – Center For Disease Control
What is an allergy?
An allergy is a reaction that takes place when your body mistakenly identifies something as a toxic substance. In response to what is perceived as a threat, the immune system tries to protect itself by releasing massive amounts of chemicals called histamines into the bloodstream. Once in the blood these chemicals travel to the skin, nose, eyes, lungs, intestines and the airways and can cause a life-threatening shutdown of these organs. Why this reaction to a harmless substance takes place is still unknown.
How many people are affected by peanut allergy?
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 related death.
What happens when an allergic reaction takes place?
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.
How can I tell if I’m allergic?
Peanut allergy is usually diagnosed by a simple skin test where the skin is pricked by a needle and a small amount of liquid containing peanuts is applied to the skin. If a rash develops this is a strong indication that you are allergic to peanuts. A blood test can also be performed to test for the presence of antibodies that would cause a reaction when peanuts are eaten. An ELISA test, or “enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay”, tests for immune responses in the body and is generally considered to be an accurate test for susceptibility to allergies.
What to do when you have a reaction
If you have been diagnosed with a peanut allergy and you accidentally consume something containing peanuts make sure that you immediately follow your doctors instructions. It may simple a matter of taking an over the counter antihistamine like Benadryl to take care of minor symptoms like a runny nose. If you have a more severe reaction your doctor will likely advise an epinephrine shot along with the Benadryl and to call 911 for further instructions.
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