What Are the Signs of a Peanut Allergy in Children?

Henry Gaudet

Symptoms of a peanut allergy in children vary in severity, ranging from mild annoyances to life threatening emergencies. Common symptoms include digestive complaints, skin reactions, congestion, runny nose, wheezing or other changing in breathing, as well as more serious reactions like asthma and anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction to protein. Peanut allergies affect a growing segment of the population, with most childhood allergies continuing into adulthood.

Symptoms of a childhood peanut allergy may include wheezing and stomach discomfort.
Symptoms of a childhood peanut allergy may include wheezing and stomach discomfort.

Like other allergic reactions, a peanut allergy in children is an overreaction of the immune system. Proteins in peanuts are perceived as a danger, and the body reacts with an immune response. This reaction typically takes place within two hours of contact or ingestion, with initial symptoms frequently observed within seconds.

A peanut allergy may lead to an asthma attack in children.
A peanut allergy may lead to an asthma attack in children.

Contact with peanuts and peanut product may be enough to trigger a peanut allergy in children. The tongue and mouth, typically the first vulnerable point of contact, is a likely location for initial symptoms. The tongue or mouth may become swollen, or the child may describe a tingling sensation.

Skin reactions are among the most likely results of a peanut allergy in children. The child may break out in a rash or hives, often accompanied by itching. Swelling or eczema are also possible. Eyes may become watery or itchy, and the child may experience congestion or runny nose as the body tries to flush out the allergen. Antihistamines can be effective in controlling these symptoms and reducing the severity of the allergic reaction.

A peanut allergy in children may also trigger stomach discomfort. The child may feel bloated or cramped. Peanut containing products are perceived by the body as a harmful material, and the body will sometimes react with vomiting or diarrhea to remove the substance.

Breathing may also be altered by a peanut allergy. Wheezing and coughing are among the possible allergic reactions. Asthma attacks may also result from a peanut allergy in children. Swelling in and around the airway may cause difficulty breathing or even block the airway entirely. Serious respiratory allergic require immediate medical aid.

Anaphylaxis is the most serious possible reaction to a peanut allergy in children. While other reactions tend to be localized, anaphylaxis is an allergic response of the whole body. Blood pressure dips dangerously low, and the child is likely to become unconscious.

Peanut allergies cannot be cured. Avoidance of peanuts, peanut containing products, and even foods made on production lines that use peanut products is the best available method to manage peanut allergies in children. Doctors often recommend that other nuts are avoided as well. Careful consultation of labels is require to ensure that products are nut free.

Children known to be at risk for such severe reactions are likely to be prescribed epinephrine, or epi-pens, for emergencies. Emergency medical treatment is recommended for children, even if epinephrine is used. When symptoms are less severe, consultation with the family doctor is recommended, even if no allergies have yet been identified.

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