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How to live with peanut and tree nut allergies? – Part 1

What is Peanut Allergy?

• Peanut with scientific name Arachis hypogeal, is a legume that is a common cause of food allergies.
• Peanut allergy is known to potentially be very dangerous.
• This allergy can also be life-threatening.
• This is particularly true in adolescents and young adults.
• It is also dangerous for people with asthma.

How common is Peanut Allergy?

• Peanut allergy is the most common form of food allergy in school going children and adults.
• Milk and egg allergy are more common in infants and toddlers.
• Allergies to such foods are commonly outgrown by school age.
• It is possible for adults (who were not allergic as children) to develop a new allergy to peanut.
• In such cases, peanut allergy tends to be less severe.
• It is likely caused by the oral allergy syndrome as a result of birch allergy.
• Peanut allergy is much less common in other parts of the world compared to that in Westernized countries.
• Peanut being a major food source in Asia, peanut allergy is uncommon.
• This is thought to be due to the common method of cooking peanuts in Asia.
• Cooking of peanut involves frying and boiling, which makes the food less allergenic.
• Dry roasting, which is the common method of cooking peanuts in the United States, has been shown to make peanuts more allergenic.

Why Is Peanut Allergy Becoming More Common?

• The occurrence of peanut allergy has doubled in the past 10 to 20 years.
This increase may be due to:
• Topical exposure to peanut proteins in skin creams containing peanut oil.
• Exposure to peanut proteins in breast milk or during pregnancy.
• Exposure to cross-reacting (similar) foods, such as soy.

How is Peanut Allergy Diagnosed?

• Peanut allergy is diagnosed in much the same as other food allergies.
• When symptoms are consistent with food allergies which occur after eating peanut-containing foods, an allergist will perform allergy testing.
The diagnosis which includes the below is considered to have a peanut allergy:
• A positive allergy test.
• A history of a person experiencing symptoms with eating peanuts.

How Often Does a Person Outgrow Peanut Allergy?

• Only about 20% of children will outgrow peanut allergy by the time they reach school age.
• For many people, peanut allergy may be a lifelong disease.
Those people who outgrow their peanut allergy typically have:
– milder reactions
– smaller skin test reactions
– fewer allergies in general
• Physicians can predict resolution of peanut allergy with the use of RAST to peanut.
• A RAST level of less than 5 kU/L (kiliunits per liter) is suggestive of outgrowing peanut allergy.
• A person may pass an oral food challenge to peanut in such a case.
• Some people who have passed an oral food challenge to peanut have become re-allergic to peanuts.
• A person who has outgrown peanut allergy should continue to have injectable epinephrine available for emergency use.

The Peanut Allergy Answer Book Food Allergies and Food Intolerance Allergies: Fight Them with the Blood Type Diet

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