Apart from peanuts being one of the greatest blessings of nature, Peanut allergy is one of the leading causes of severe allergies. It could be so severe that it may lead to a life-threatening allergic reaction.
Peanut allergy is very common in children. Therefore, loving moms must be aware of the various aspects of this allergy before they actually attempt to introduce their baby to peanuts.
What is peanut allergy and how does it happen?
Peanut allergy occurs when the body reacts overly to peanut proteins. When a peanut is engulfed, the body's immune system mistakenly identifies it as a harmful substance (allergen). It results in the formation of IgE antibodies. These antibodies neutralize the allergen and produce signs and symptoms of allergic reaction.
Exposure to peanuts
It occurs in three different ways
- Direct exposure to peanuts by consuming peanuts or peanut products.
- If peanuts or peanut products are not taken directly, but unintended exposure occurs, the result is allergy. This mainly results if the food gets contaminated with peanuts during processing.
- If peanut flour, peanut oil spray or peanut powder is inhaled, this also causes allergic reaction.
What are the signs and symptoms of peanut allergy?
They present themselves as follows:
- Hives formation on body
- Tingling sensation in mouth and throat
- Abdominal pain
What does a life-threatening reaction to peanuts look like?
A life-threatening reaction, anaphylaxis, has the following presentation:
- Sensation of congestion in throat
- Difficulty in breathing
- Cold and sweaty skin
- Drop in blood pressure (shock)
- Rapid pulse
- Dizziness or unconsciousness
How to manage peanut allergy
It includes testing and treatment.
Blood tests to measure the levels of IgE antibodies against peanut exposure confirm the clinical diagnosis.
You need to seek medical help immediately if you feel bothered by peanut intake. You will be treated based on the severity of your illness:
- Mild to moderate symptoms are treated with antihistamines (anti-allergy medicines).
- Severe symptoms require intensive treatment with a life-saving drug called adrenaline.
Methods to introduce peanuts to your little one
- Start introducing at an early age of around 4 to 6 months.
- Do not introduce other foods when peanuts are on trial. This will help in clear identification of whether or not peanuts are causing trouble.
- Start with a minimum dose and try to increase the dose with the passage of time. This decreases the possibility of triggering allergy and increases efficacy.
- Feed peanuts containing food for 2 to 7 times a week. Continue this for more than 6 months. This will train the immune system of your baby to accept peanut proteins.
There are some recipes for introducing allergens like peanuts
- Do not try to feed whole peanuts or chunks as it is associated with choking hazard.
- In the beginning, you can use smooth peanut butter and give it as a finger food to your baby.
- You may spread peanut butter on a toast and serve.
- Fine peanut powder can be sprinkled on some other food items or products.