Food allergies can be difficult to pin down, especially with modern eating habits. Many different foods are blended together before being placed on store shelves, making a food allergy possible from several different sources. If a peanut allergy is suspected, then the first step is to schedule an appointment with a medical provider to discuss a personal medical history. After a physical exam, there may be several recommendations made including the peanut allergy blood test.
Peanuts may not be the only food causing an allergy. A medical provider will request that specific foods not be eaten for a week or two and then add them back to the diet individually. This helps link allergy symptoms to specific foods.
Many medical providers request that patients keep track of their eating habits, medications, and any specific symptoms on a daily basis.
Allergy skin tests place the suspected foods on the skin and then pierce the skin with a needle. If a reaction occurs, then an allergy is likely present.
The goal of a food allergy is to locate IgE antibodies that may be present after peanuts have been consumed. Because the signs and symptoms of food intolerance are similar to that of allergies, it is important to receive a definitive diagnosis.
How To Treat a Peanut Allergy
The only known way to prevent having an allergic reaction to peanuts is to avoid all peanut products. Because of how common they are, however, it may be important to find a way to treat an allergic reaction effectively. Some reactions may be severe, so a medical provider is likely to provide a prescription for epinephrine to counter an exposure should it occur.
Some medical providers may also recommend approaching treatment through desensitization. Some people can develop a higher tolerance for peanuts despite their allergy to them through consistent daily exposure at low levels. Over time, the body begins to build up a tolerance against the allergy so that incidental exposures are not as dangerous as they once were. This has been found to be most beneficial in children 4-11 months of age, but could work for someone of any age.
It is important to make sure no assumptions are made about the foods being eaten. Any food product may contain peanuts, even those that specifically state that they are peanut-free. Read all ingredient labels thoroughly and watch for language that shows the foods were manufactured in a facility that may process peanuts. Don’t ignore this. Even a trace amount of peanut materials can trigger an allergic reaction.
Ingredients change in foods all of the time. Check the ingredients every time. The one time you don’t will often be the time that a peanut allergy will strike.
What Are the Foods to Avoid?
When there is a peanut allergy present, some foods seem obvious to avoid. Granola bars, baked goods, mixed nuts, and ice cream may all have peanut materials present. Other foods, however, seem less obvious. Salad dressing, nougat, and even pet food can cause an allergic reaction even if the items containing the allergy are not consumed. A common mistake made by peanut allergy sufferers is to use arachis oil, thinking it is safe, when really it is just peanut oil.
How To Cope With a Peanut Allergy
If the peanut allergy blood test has come back as positive, then coping with the condition becomes the next treatment step. A written plan of action that is given to friends, family, and caregivers is important so that the correct decisions can be made should an allergic reaction occur. Discourage kids from sharing foods and avoid ethnic restaurants where peanuts may be in the kitchen. Having epinephrine available at all times is also important.
One of the most overlooked coping methods, but vitally important, is to wear medical alert jewelry so that if an emergency does happen, appropriate actions can be taken. Make sure the alert specifically includes the peanut allergy, any emergency instructions that may be necessary, and the name of the person involved so that there is no confusion during those critical treatment moments.
The peanut allergy blood test can help to confirm whether or not a food allergy is present. If you get an allergic reaction sometimes when you eat certain foods, including hives, swelling, or trouble breathing, then this test may be right for you. Always seek emergency help if there is shortness of breath as this can lead to a potential life threatening situation without treatment.