Why Peanut and Food Allergies Are Surging?by Carissa Andrews - February 25th, 2020
Peanut allergies are on the rise—increasing 21% since 2010. In fact, children with a peanut allergy account for roughly 10,000 children being admitted to hospitals around the world. Granted, this isn’t the same everywhere, for instance, India and China are not seeing this same rise. However, in the US, more than 2.5%, or roughly 1.2 million kids are allergic, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Severe allergies can strike anyone, regardless of social stature, income, or race. Sometimes a family history can be at play, and sometimes it’s random. In fact, Kylie Jenner’s daughter, Stormi, was recently hospitalized for a day,, only to be told she has a severe peanut allergy.
While kids are more prone to developing the allergy, they aren’t the only ones living with peanut allergies. 1-2% of adults also have this allergy. It’s theorized that thanks to eradicating other diseases and life-threatening illnesses, humans are evolving in a much too sterile environment—thus encouraging an overreaction in the immune system response. Others wonder if genetically modified peanuts might also be part of the problem.
As with any other allergy, peanut allergies are nothing more than an abnormal immune system response. The body basically decides the proteins from peanuts pose a threat and it begins to overproduce immunoglobulin E (IgE), which is an antibody, in order to fight off the threat. After a couple of exposures to peanuts, if IgE has developed a sensitivity to peanut proteins, it will trigger a histamine response in the body. In some cases, the allergic response is mild and affects them only if they consume something with peanuts. However, there is a certain portion of the populace who has an allergy so severe, walking into a room where peanuts were served is enough to trigger a response.
SYMPTOMS OF PEANUT INTOLERANCE / ALLERGY
Knowing whether or not a child or loved one has a peanut allergy can be a challenging diagnosis at first. Especially if they’ve already consumed peanuts before without problem. However, as we discussed, it does take a couple of exposures to develop IgE and trigger the allergic response. The best thing to do is be mindful of the symptoms for both peanut intolerance and a severe allergic reaction.
Intolerance symptoms generally look like mouth tingling sensations, cramping or indigestion, mild hives or itching, heartburn, and dizziness.
However, a true peanut allergy can be associated with severe hives, skin rash, difficulty breathing, accelerated heart rate, and can even go extreme by causing anaphylaxis, coma, and even death. Peanut allergies are estimated to be associated with up to 80% of fatal or near fatal allergic reactions each year.
Interestingly, 6 out of 10 children with a peanut allergy also have atopic dermatitis (eczema). As it turns out, legumes (which is what peanuts are), are directly associated with eczema and asthma.
If someone in your family is suspected of having a peanut allergy, there is good news. A simple blood test or skin test can confirm or deny it. However, if you are trying to reduce the risk for your children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends delaying giving peanuts to children under the age of three who might have a higher risk for food allergies.
THE IMPACTS OF FOOD ALLERGIES
Food allergies are becoming more of a mainstream topic, spurring on schools, airlines, and many households to go peanut-free. There is even an allergen-free movement when it comes to passing out treats for Halloween and other major holidays.
The thing is, approximately a third of kids with food allergies have been bullied because of their allergy. Yet, the largest burden really falls on the parents and caregivers of children with severe food allergies. A study by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) found there was a large mental and emotional toll taken on when a child in the home has food allergies. Not only do parents fear for their child’s safety when out in the wide world, but they are often anxious and worry about how the allergy will impact their quality of life.
There’s obviously a loss of normalcy as everyone in the home, school, and other places the child regularly visits each have to adjust their routines and meal plans. But there’s also issues when it comes to birthday parties, extracurricular events, and even traveling or dining out. Each of these scenarios have to be taken into consideration and addressed to provide a safe environment.
What’s more, depending on the severity, the daily needs and requirements for caring with a child with severe food allergies can take its toll on the family budget—both in time and money. All of this has led to a whopping 82% of parents to worry and think about food allergies all the time.
COMMON MEDICINES TO TREAT PEANUT ALLERGIES
If your child has been diagnosed with a peanut allergy, there are a couple of ways to manage the histamine reaction. They are typically prescribed by your doctor and range from controlling a mild reaction, up to the more severe. Let’s take a look:
• Mild: Benadryl – this over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine comes in a liquid, gel capsule, spray, stick, and cream. It can treat many different allergic reactions, including peanut allergies, when taken right away after consuming a peanut allergen. It may make a child drowsy and should be given with extreme caution to children younger than 12.
• Mild: Claritin – this is another OTC antihistamine and comes in tablet and liquid form and has been approved for children 6 and older. Extreme caution should be used when giving to children younger than 6.
• Severe: Epipen Injector – this injectable epinephrine medication is used with those who have a severe allergic reaction from anything from insect bites to food allergies. There are adult and child strengths for this injection. Talk to your child’s doctor for the right dosage and prescription for this medication.
There is a brand-new therapy recently approved by the FDA to treat peanut allergy in kids aged 4-17. Palforzia is a new oral immunotherapy manufactured by Aimmune, a pioneer in food allergy treatments. While the medication doesn’t provide a cure, it does increase the tolerance to small quantities of peanuts, which decreases the risk of serious reactions from an accidental bite. If you’re looking for more information on Palforzia, or tips / food allergy options, check out Aimmune’s Twitter account. Consult with your doctor or pharmacist to find out if this treatment could be right for your child.
Regardless if you or a child in your life is suffering from a food allergy, such as that from peanuts, there are options. Remember, you aren’t alone and if you are a parent of a child with food allergies, you still need to take time for yourself. Reach out to a support group for parents who are in the same boat or ask for help when you need it. Canadian Pharmacy King provides many medication options for allergy sufferers. We know that by providing insights into this potentially life-threatening immune system response, you will be arming yourself with the tools you need to take smart action.