Peanut allergies are one of the most common—and dangerous—food allergies. Approximately three million Americans live with peanut allergies, and that number is rising. Indeed, studies have found that the number of children with peanut allergies has tripled since 1997. Peanut allergy symptoms can range in severity. However, with proper care and caution, those with peanut allergies can stay healthy and safe. The most important step, of course, is obtaining a proper diagnosis and committing to a prevention and treatment plan. If you suspect you may be allergic to peanuts, here are the most common peanut allergy symptoms to look out for.
What to Know About Peanut Allergy Symptoms
A peanut is a legume, in the same family as peas, lentils and soybeans. Peanuts are not tree nuts, though many people are allergic to both. Peanut allergies tend to develop in childhood, but about 20% of these childhood cases are outgrown. Peanut allergies can also vary wildly in severity. For some, peanut allergy symptoms are mild. For others, even the tiniest amounts of peanut can be fatal. There is no cure for peanut allergies. The best thing to do is to pursue strict avoidance of peanuts or products containing traces of peanuts and seek out a treatment plan in conjunction with a doctor.
Mild Peanut Allergy Symptoms
Peanut allergy symptoms vary in severity, not only by individual, but by scenario. Just because you had a peanut once and had a mild reaction doesn’t mean that the next time, your reaction could be worse. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Still, the vast majority of those with peanut allergies experience only mild symptoms. An allergic reaction should become obvious within minutes of contact with peanuts. These are the most common mild peanut allergy symptoms and signs:
- Itchy or red skin
- Itchy or tingly throat or mouth.
- Stuffy or runny nose
It is important to know that for some, these mild symptoms may be only the start of the allergic reaction. More noticeable peanut allergy symptoms may develop, including:
- Swollen tongue or lips
- Swollen face or limbs
- Stomach cramps
Severe Peanut Allergy Symptoms
Some reactions can be life-threatening, a condition called anaphylaxis. Severe peanut allergy symptoms include:
- Swollen throat
- Inability to breathe
- Fast pulse
- Drop in blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
If you experience severe allergy symptoms, seek out medical attention immediately. An allergic reaction in two or more systems of the body (for example, in both the respiratory and digestive symptoms) it is considered a life-threatening medical emergency. Call 911 immediately. If there is an injection of epinephrine (epipen) available, administer it at once. It should be injected into the outer thigh and held for 10 seconds. Be sure to take the epipen with you to the hospital so the staff treating you knows what dose of epipen you took.