What You Need to Know
More than 26 million U.S. adults suffer from food allergies. Nearly 1.8% of these adults are allergic to peanuts, and 68% of persons allergic to peanuts reported a history of severe reactions. Peanut allergies are typically identified in childhood and are often lifelong.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, as well as one of the prominent editors of McGraw-Hill Education’s Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 20e talked with CBS Sunday Morning about the increase in peanut allergies in America. According to Dr. Fauci, several years ago clinicians were telling parents to wait to introduce peanuts until three years of age, thinking this would help prevent the development of peanut allergies. Instead, this advice may have contributed to the growth of the peanut allergy problem. Now experts recommend introducing peanuts to children early and giving them often to prevent allergic reactions.
When caring for a patient with suspected food allergy a thorough history must be ascertained to determine recent food intake and details of the reaction, including specific symptoms and symptom duration. In persons who are highly sensitized to peanuts, even small quantities of exposure can trigger an allergic reaction. In a type I hypersensitivity IgE-mediated reaction to peanuts, an adverse response may occur up to two hours following ingestion and symptoms may include hives, flushing, itching of the mouth or throat, and facial angioedema. Severe reactions may include tongue, pharynx, uvula, or upper airway angioedema. Gastrointestinal symptoms may also occur and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. According to a recent JAMA research article on adult food allergies, only 25% of persons with a known food allergy have been given a prescription epinephrine pen, which is essential for all patients with a known food allergy.
Read more about peanut allergy:
Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 20e: Chapter 345: Urticaria, Angioedema, and Allergic Rhinitis
Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology, 9e: Chapter25. Irritant Dermatitis > Food Allergy
Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment: Chapter 20: Rheumatologic, Immunologic, & Allergic Disorders
JAMA Network Open: Prevalence and Severity of Food Allergies Among US Adults