According to the American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology, 400,000 children in the U.S. have peanut allergies. In addition, peanut allergy is the one food allergen that is most commonly associated with severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis.
A Georgia-based organization recently launched a website dedicated to increasing awareness and serving as a portal of information for schools, parents and food service administrators to learn everything they can about peanut allergies.
Spreading the Message
The Tifton Gazette recently reported the launch of PeanutAllergyFacts.org, a site created by the National Peanut Board. The site provides science-based information about peanut allergies, as well as links to resources on effective allergy management in schools and communities.
A primary mission of the site is to help school districts all across the country to better manage peanut and food allergies in a school setting. This can be a challenging task for school administrators.
Another objective of the website is to dispel common misconceptions about food allergies and allergy management, such as:
- Just being near peanuts can trigger a reaction
- Believing peanut allergies are more prevalent than they actually are
- Self-diagnosing food allergies, or getting diagnosed from individuals who are not allergists or are not properly credentialed to diagnose
- Not realizing the importance of being prepared for an allergic reaction that can strike at any time. Research has shown that nearly half of households with a self-reported peanut allergy do not keep epinephrine on hand to treat allergic reactions.
Allergic reactions to peanuts are triggered by contact with peanut protein. To date, there are no documented reports of allergic reactions when in the presence of peanuts.
If a person is in an area where peanuts are being ground or pulverized, he may have an allergic reaction if he inhales the airborne particles produced during the grinding process. Most people with peanut allergies can eat peanut oil (not the extruded, expelled or cold pressed form), but to be safe you should probably consult with allergist beforehand.
Allergic reactions can vary in severity, with the most severe being anaphylaxis. Other symptoms include:
- Skin rash or hives
- Throat or chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Stomach cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
- Runny nose
People with peanut allergies are typically prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector that they must carry with them at all times. As with any food allergies, people with peanut allergies must be very vigilant in reading food labels, asking as many questions as necessary when eating foods prepared by others.