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Living with Peanut Allergy

First grade has been a difficult parenting year for Smita. Her 6-year-old son, Tarun, began eating lunch in the cafeteria with hundreds of other students armed with their peanut butter sandwiches, peanut butter crackers, and all those hidden peanuts in their processed foods.

For Tarun, who is extremely allergic to peanuts, it is mandatory to sit on a ‘peanut-free table’. But Tarun isn't alone: About 5 percent of school-going kids have some kind of food allergy, putting them at risk of an allergic reaction at home and even worse – when out of home.

Peanuts are among the most common allergy-causing foods, and they often find their way into things you wouldn't imagine. Take chili, for example - it may be thickened with ground peanuts.

Peanuts are actually not a true nut, but a legume (in the same family as peas and lentils). But the proteins in peanuts are similar in structure to those in tree nuts. For this reason, people who are allergic to peanuts also can be allergic to tree nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, pecans, and cashews.

Allergic Reaction caused by Peanut Allergy

An allergic reaction happens when someone's immune system mistakenly believes that something harmless, such as a tree nut or peanut, is actually harmful. The immune system responds by creating specific antibodies to proteins in that food. These antibodies — called immunoglobulin E (IgE) — are designed to fight off the "invading" proteins.

IgE antibodies trigger the release of certain chemicals in the body. One of these is histamine. The release of histamine can affect the respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin, and cardiovascular system, causing allergy symptoms like wheezing, stomachache, vomiting, itchy hives, swelling, and a drop in blood pressure.

Reactions to foods, like peanuts and tree nuts, can be different. It all depends on the person — and sometimes the same person can react differently at different times. Some reactions can be very mild and involve only one system of the body, like hives on the skin. Other reactions can be more severe and involve more than one part of the body.

Most reactions last a few hours or less, and affect any of these body systems:

  • Skin: Skin reactions are the most common type of food allergy reactions. They can take the form of itchy, red, bumpy rashes (hives),eczema, or redness and swelling around the mouth or face. A rash can happen when a nut or peanut comes in contact with the skin, without the person even eating it
  • Gastrointestinal: Symptoms can include belly cramps, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Respiratory: Symptoms can range from a runny or stuffy nose; itchy, watery eyes; and sneezing to the triggering ofasthma with coughing and wheezing
  • A person may feel lightheaded or faint and lose consciousness.

In really bad cases, an allergy can cause anaphylaxis, a sudden, potentially life-threatening reaction. Besides the symptoms mentioned above, anaphylaxis can make airways swell and blood pressure drop. As a result, a person may have trouble breathing and could lose consciousness.

Even a small amount of peanut or tree nut protein can set off a severe reaction. But allergic reactions just from breathing in small particles of nuts or peanuts are rare because the food needs to be digested to cause a reaction. Most foods with peanuts in them don't allow enough of the protein to escape into the air to cause a reaction. And just the smell of foods containing peanuts won't produce a reaction because the scent does not contain the protein.

In very rare cases when people do react to airborne particles, it's usually in an enclosed area (like a restaurant) where lots of peanuts are being cracked from their shells. The person inhales and then swallows the protein, which can lead to a reaction when the protein gets digested. Although some people outgrow certain food allergies over time (like milk, egg, soy, and wheat allergies), peanut and tree nut allergies are lifelong in many people.

Also Read: Treat Food Allergies With Homeopathy

Management of Peanut Allergy

Here, we have enlisted some tips that may help you to avoid peanut allergy:

  • The most obvious way to avoid peanut allergy is to avoid foods such as baked foods, mixed nuts or energy bars that commonly contain peanuts. Some of the less obvious foods that can contain peanuts are chocolate candies, ice creams or salad dressings.
  • Sharing food is always good, but make sure you do not eat anything that contains peanuts.
  • Be careful of cross-contact. Foods that don't have peanuts can get contaminated if they are prepared in the same place or in the same equipment.
  • Read the label each time you buy a product. Manufacturers’ occasionally alter the recipes, and a trigger food may be added to the new one.

Also Read: What is Wheat Allergy & How to Treat with Homeopathy in Children?

So, the management of peanut allergy might seem to be challenging, but a little bit of awareness will help in alleviating the fear. To get rid of the illness completely, homeopathy can be your best bet. Homeopathy treatment for allergies addresses the disease by the administration of minute doses of a homeopathic medicine that would in healthy persons produce symptoms similar to those of the allergic response. For example, a severe allergic reaction to bee sting is treated safely and effectively with Apis Mellifica, a homeopathic medicine for allergies, made from honeybee.

Put simply, homeopathy treats not just the allergic symptoms on the surface but the entire person at three levels: skin, respiratory and gastro-intestinal systems.

To know more about the treatment, please click on the following link: Overcome Allergies with Homeopathy

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