Raising Peanut Allergy Awareness on National Peanut Day
Last Updated: 22nd September 2023 · Written by Donna Mastriani
Many of us take so many foods for granted when it comes to enjoying meals, desserts, and snacks. National Peanut Day reminds us that life is very different for those with a peanut allergy, particularly when exploring different foods. Like many other allergies, peanut allergy symptoms exist on a scale from mild to severe. Regardless of where you fall on that scale, you should still pursue allergy testing to know if you are allergic to peanuts rather than tree nuts or something else that could be causing your allergy symptoms. Curious to know more about peanut allergies? Read on!
Peanut allergies are common in children, though peanut allergies can last a lifetime. Recently, diagnoses of peanut allergies have increased. About 1 in 50 UK children are diagnosed with peanut allergies.
This is part of why allergy testing is vital to a healthy profile, particularly for young ones. It helps parents and GPs to get accurate information on what is safe for little ones. It’s also common to do another allergy test in later years to see if they have outgrown their allergies with time.
Many assume that peanut allergy symptoms are always severe, anaphylactic reactions. If their child doesn’t have that kind of reaction to peanuts, then they are safe. Yet, peanut allergies can have a spectrum of reactions. This includes mild, moderate, and severe.
There are a variety of mild symptoms, but the most common ones are having a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and generally feeling sick. Some will also feel that they have an upset stomach or nauseous. These can happen immediately or hours after eating the peanut product.
Right in the middle of the scale, moderate symptoms can also vary in how they present. The most common ones include pain in the face, headaches, or having an itchy, raised rash. Some have hives instead of a rash, but most allergists would consider that a severe reaction. Another moderate allergic reaction is diarrhoea, which can vary in strength.
Many are already aware of severe peanut allergy symptoms, but it’s still important to recognise them. The most common symptom people feel is swelling in the face. This includes the face and eyelids. Others will notice swelling in their mouth and throat and a sense of breathlessness.
A severe reaction is different from anaphylaxis, but not by a lot. If someone has a severe reaction to peanuts, it’s a good idea to call 999 or go to a medical emergency centre near you.
Mild, moderate, and severe allergies also have corresponding reaction strengths. The mild reactions can be easy to overlook, while the severe reactions will feel almost impossible to ignore. But even mild allergic reactions should be taken seriously.
If any of this sounds familiar, you can do quite a few things to keep your safety in check and still enjoy food the same as everyone else.
The first thing to do is get allergy testing. You will want to ensure that you are reacting to peanuts instead of something else in the food that you are eating. It’s a waste of your time and energy to avoid peanuts if they aren’t the problem, right?
This is going to sound obvious, but it is crucial. An allergy is a serious health condition because it involves the immune system. Even if your symptoms are mild, allergies stress your body, and deliberately eating something you are allergic to is never a good idea.
In every aisle of your grocery market, you’ll want to get used to checking the ingredients for peanuts or possible cross-contamination with peanuts. Potential cross-contamination is especially important if you have severe or anaphylactic reactions,
When you go to restaurants, inform staff about your peanut allergy and ask them what products are safe for you to eat. Many restaurants are prepared for allergen-free cooking for major allergens (such as shellfish and peanuts). If they can’t give you information that can satisfy your needs, ask to talk to the chef or other food preparers to know for sure. Your health is worth it!
Peanuts can “hide” in all sorts of foods. This is very common in packaged foods that are mass-produced. It also happens often in baked goods since extracts and peanut butter are common ingredients in many healthy recipes. Ensure you know exactly what is in the foods you’re eating.
On the same note, consider a DIY approach to baking since that can be a fun way to enjoy all the same foods everyone else gets, but make them allergy-friendly! There are many resources online to help you make just about anything you can think of.
National Peanut Day is a great way to enjoy peanut products, the next time you catch yourself in the grocery market, consider looking at the ingredients on the product you are buying to see if they contain peanuts. But remember it’s also the perfect opportunity to get familiar with peanut allergies and their different types of reactions with an Allergy Test.