Peanut allergies affect nearly 3 million Americans and cause serious reactions and in some cases can be life-threatening. People are actually allergic to the peanut protein, which their bodies treat like an invading virus. Most people with these allergies will have them for life, unlike many other allergies. Here are the basics everyone should know about peanut allergies and symptoms you should be aware of.


The Basics

Peanuts are not actually nuts at all, they are considered legumes. Legumes like soybeans and peas are grown in the ground. All other nuts are considered “tree nuts,” like walnuts and almonds. Many times people will be allergic to peanuts but not tree nuts, so make sure you get tested for all nuts by a doctor or allergy specialist.

Most people with peanut allergies develop it when they are a child and have this allergy their entire life. Only 20% of people lose this allergy, which is a much lower percentage than most common allergies.


Peanut Allergies around the world

Peanut allergies are the third most common childhood food allergy in the United States, behind milk and eggs.  This specific allergy is really only a thing in Westernized countries like the United States and the United Kingdom.

In Greece, there is almost no instances of children with peanut allergies, and scientists aren’t sure why. Many believe it’s because the legume’s consumption is higher in the US. This theory doesn’t hold up as peanut consumption in Indonesia and Africa is high but they have very few cases of allergies.

Nut allergies are more common n families with other allergies like asthma and eczema.


Allergic Reactions

Your body treats food allergies like they are an illness or virus and sets out to eradicate them. People with peanut allergies have odd reactions to harmless proteins. Their bodies attack these peanut proteins as if they were a toxic virus. The body releases chemical enzymes like Histamine when it comes in contact with peanut proteins. These chemicals affect our bodies and cause reactions that are not pleasant.

Allergic reactions include trouble breathing, throat swelling, nausea, and vomiting and itchy lips. Any combination of these can cause even more serious reactions and could be life threatening.

Anaphylaxis is when you have multiple symptoms at once and is usually treated with an Epinephrine injection. You may have heard about Epinephrine lately in the news. A greedy pharmaceutical company bought the popular Epipen and raised the price by over 600%. This is crazy and so telling about our corrupt health care system in America.

Anaphylaxis is a severe combination of symptoms including closing of throat and airways, blood pressure dropping and shock.


Ways to fix

Oral Immunotherapy

This practice helps develop tolerance slowly by introducing small amounts of peanut proteins to patients. This should only be done with a doctor’s supervision, as the allergic reactions could be dangerous.


Avoid peanuts

Staying clear of all peanut products is the only way to be safe for sure.


Read labels

Reading labels and looking for red flags like processed near peanuts is another good practice you should enable. If you have a peanut allergy, you must be careful eating out where others prepare your food. Cross contamination is a common way people have allergic reactions.


Now that you know the basics, you can be better prepared if someone you love is affected with this deadly allergy.