Your child just received a peanut allergy diagnosis and you’re likely feeling overwhelmed, lost, and confused. The doctors probably said some sort of medical mumbo-jumbo jargon that left your head spinning.
Now you’re standing at a pharmacy counter ready to hand over the equivalent of a mortgage payment for epinephrine auto-injectors. And just what the heck are these “lifesaving” things anyway?
Welcome to the club – I know it’s the last place you want to be; I promise you will find an incredible network of moms who will support you on your food allergy journey.
It doesn’t matter where you are in this unfamiliar space. Whether you’re a young mom with a new diagnosis or a soon-to-be empty nester with a college-bound kid, you’ll find the answers you need to master peanut allergies right here at Peanut Allergy Mom.
For the past 15 years, I’ve experienced the highs and lows of food allergies. I’ve spent hours googling for ingredients and reading packaging info in the store isles at 11PM. And I’ve hosted and volunteered at countless events to ensure my son was safe.
Life After a Peanut Allergy Diagnosis
I’ve been through it all – from the preschool playdates to the first kiss in high school and everything between.
For starters, I’ve served as an advocate for kids since 2009, when I started this blog; I’ve worked tirelessly to educate, encourage and inspire other peanut and food allergy moms like you.
I talk a lot about PEANUT and NUT ALLERGIES (naturally) and I am mindful of the top 8 common food allergies. Often times, people have allergies to multiple foods and manage other conditions like asthma and eczema.
Please be sure to thoroughly read through the ingredients on all my PEANUT-FREE/NUT-FREE recipes on my blog. Make any necessary changes to a recipe that you need.
If there’s an allergen, milk or egg, included that you need to avoid, please substitute with your favorite safe ingredient.
What Are Food Allergies?
Food allergies are essentially the immune system’s reaction to a harmful substance. Your body sees a certain food (allergens) as dangerous and causes one or more symptoms, known as an allergic reaction.
Even the most minuscule amount of allergen can trigger signs and symptoms including digestive problems, hives or swollen airways. In some cases, food allergies can cause a life-threatening reaction.
What is Peanut Allergy?
Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies and a leading cause of anaphylaxis, the most severe and potentially life-threatening reaction that requires immediate attention and treatment.
If you have a peanut allergy, please carry an epinephrine auto-injector (commonly known as an EpiPen®, Auvi-Q™ or Adrenaclick®) with you at all times. Make sure you understand how to use your epinephrine auto-injectors and talk with your allergist or doctor about any questions you may have.
Peanuts are not the same as tree nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachio, Brazil nuts and hazelnut), which grow on trees. Peanuts grow underground and are part of the legume family. Other examples of legumes include peas, lentils, soybeans and beans.
A peanut allergy diagnosis does not mean you are allergic to tree nuts or other foods. Please consult with a medical professional for a true diagnosis.
Peanuts are one of the eight major allergens that must be listed on all packaged foods sold in the United States, as required by federal law. Labeling can include “contains” and “may contain” warnings.
More than 170 foods are known to cause allergic reactions; the following are the most common in the U.S.
- Tree nuts, such as almonds, cashews and walnuts
- Shellfish, such as crab, lobster and shrimp
How Common Are Food Allergies?
According to Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), researchers estimate that 32 million Americans have food allergies, including 5.6 million children under age 18. That equates to one in 13 children – or roughly two in every classroom.
Nearly 11 percent of people age 18 and older – more than 26 million adults – have food allergies.
About 40 percent of children with food allergies are allergic to more than one food; according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the prevalence of food allergy in children increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011.
There is no cure for peanut allergy.
Peanut allergy is managed by avoiding the food, learning to recognize reactions and treat symptoms immediately. If you or someone else with a food allergy reaction is experiencing anaphylaxis, use an epinephrine auto-injector and dial 911.
Common Food Allergy Signs and Symptoms
Every three minutes, a food allergy reaction causes people to visit the emergency room for care in the U.S. Symptoms can appear within minutes to several hours after consuming the food you are allergic to. The experience can be mild to severe, including the life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis (ana-fil-LACK-sis).
There is no hard and fast rules that tell us exactly how this is going to play out.
A peanut allergy diagnosis and reaction is unpredictable, nerve-wracking and can affect the skin, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory area and in most cases, severe impact to the cardiovascular system.
A peanut allergy reaction may include impaired breathing, swelling in the throat, sudden drop in blood pressure, pale or red skin and a sense of feeling dizzy. Anaphylaxis should be treated immediately with epinephrine (adrenaline), which is administered in an auto-injector.
Symptoms of a peanut allergy Diagnosis Includes:
- Hives (red, swollen and itchy areas on the skin)
- Swelling of the lips, face, tongue and throat or other parts of the body
- Eczema flare up (this is a persistent dry, itchy and irritable rash)
- Wheezing, nasal congestion or trouble breathing
- Nausea, vomiting, abdominal/stomach pain or diarrhea
- Redness of the skin (especially around the mouth or eyes)
- Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
- Slight dry or repetitive cough and/or odd taste in the mouth
Your doctor or allergist will give you a complete list of possible symptoms with information on how to respond to them. It’s critical to include this list on your written food allergy emergency care plan.
It’s important to remember that young, preschool-aged kids or those unfamiliar with food allergy reactions may describe their symptoms differently.
I spent five years teaching/tutoring K-5 grade kids and it always tickled me to hear the words they chose to describe certain experiences and perceptions.
But when it comes to dealing with a potentially life-threatening peanut allergy reaction, there’s nothing cute about what kids say or how they communicate what they are feeling.
If a child is experiencing a food allergy reaction – specifically anaphylaxis – time is critical.
Adults need to be able to identify, recognize and respond immediately to what is happening.
Newly Diagnosed Peanut Allergy Mom Checklist
The first signs of a food allergy reaction might appear mild; it’s important to be diligent and aware because symptoms can actually worsen quickly. And a food allergy that caused a mild reaction one time might create a severe, life-threatening outcome the next time.
If you’re new to food allergies and don’t know where to start, remember you’re not alone! Download my FREE list of the top 7 things to do after your child is diagnosed with a peanut allergy HERE.