Peanut allergies are one of the most common allergies in children, and often result in serious allergic responses. Moreover, with peanut allergy, even a small amount of allergen may result in a serious response. It is easy to predict the presence of nuts in some foods, while in some others, like gravies and sauces, the inclusion of peanuts may be surprising. More than 3 million people in the US are affected by an allergy to peanuts.
Some of the most common symptoms of peanut allergies include skin irritation, itching, nausea, vomiting, runny nose, and anaphylaxis. People who have a peanut allergy may be allergic to other nuts, like almonds, brazil nuts, chest nuts, Macadamia nuts, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, and pecans. So, they may have to avoid other tree nuts as well to avoid serious reactions.
Beware of some of the common foods that may contain peanuts or any other tree nuts. This includes cookies, pastries, marzipan, ice cream, cereals, granola, grain breads, soups, sauces, salad, and salad dressing. In addition to foods, there are some ingredients, which may also contain peanuts or tree nuts, to which you are allergic. Some of them are nut butters, nut oils, peanut flour, nut extract, nut pastes, and hydrolyzed vegetable protein. One should be careful to avoid these while cooking.
Here are a few tips to follow to make sure you or your child can avoid peanuts:
- One should remember that even if the food does not contain peanuts or tree nuts, if it is prepared in the same place as that of nut-containing foods, it may get contaminated with nuts. This is referred to as cross contamination. It may happen in ice cream parlors, where the same scoop is used for different flavors.
- Ensure to check the labels before buying a food product.
- Nuts may be present in other products as well. This includes lotions, shampoos, and food for pets. One should check the contents of these products before using them regularly.
- Keep an epinephrine shot ready with you always. This will help in avoiding life threatening reactions.
- Parents of children with peanut allergies should equip them with medical ID tags and bracelets showing the child’s allergies.
- Take appropriate medications, like antihistamines and epinephrine, as recommended.
- Just because the food product doesn't contain peanuts, doesn't mean that the product is peanut free. This is due to potential cross contamination of peanuts where the food was produced.