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What Is a Peanut Butter Allergy?

By Madeleine A.
Updated: May 17, 2024

A peanut butter allergy is a reaction that occurs when exposure to peanut butter or peanuts causes the release of histamine in the body. This release can cause the symptoms of a peanut butter allergy such as hives, rash, and itching. In addition, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps can occur. Although these signs of a peanut butter allergy are generally not severe, other symptoms of a peanut butter allergy can be extremely severe.

Someone who has a peanut butter allergy can experience wheezing, shortness of breath, sneezing, and nasal symptoms. In addition, feeling dizzy or lightheaded are also potential symptoms of a peanut allergy. People can be so allergic to peanuts that even the slightest contact with peanuts can trigger an allergic reaction. Generally, an allergy to peanut butter is diagnosed during childhood, but it can develop anytime during one's lifetime.

Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening reaction that can cause swelling of the throat and difficulty breathing. In addition, heart irregularities, dramatically low blood pressure, and shock can occur during a anaphylactic reaction. People who have a peanut butter allergy sometimes carry epinephrine with them to counteract the peanut allergy. If these symptoms occur, emergency medical intervention is required.

Someone with a peanut butter allergy can experience a severe reaction when the shell of the peanut is touched or even when peanut dust is breathed in. In addition, kissing someone who recently ate peanut butter can trigger a severe reaction in a person who has a peanut butter allergy. Kids with an allergy to peanut butter may even react if they eat their lunch in the same room as kids who are eating peanut butter. In fact, some schools request that parents not send lunches or snacks to school containing peanut butter or peanuts because even minute contact with a peanut byproduct can cause a reaction.

Treating an allergy to peanut butter involves taking antihistamines to reduce the amount of histamine that is released into the bloodstream. Generally, antihistamines are taken after the symptoms have occurred so that the intensity and severity of the symptoms can be controlled. The only way to avoid symptoms is to make sure that peanut butter or any peanut components are not ingested or inhaled.

Accidents can happen even in those who are diligent in trying to avoid peanut exposure. For these people, injectable epinephrine should be carried at all times. In addition, people with severe allergies to peanut butter may wear a medical alert identification bracelet to inform first responders and medical personnel of their condition.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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