Unfortunately, the prevalence of peanut allergy is on the rise in America. This delicious and common food can cause allergic reactions that may be mild or can even be life-threatening. We’ve all heard the tragic stories sometimes associated with peanut allergy.
People with peanut allergy may have hives, difficulty breathing, vomiting, mouth itch, tongue swelling, facial swelling, or dizziness, sometimes even leading to a passing out episode, and even death. This can be terrifying, and can occur just from touching or smelling the peanut if the person is very allergic.
At this time, the only treatment for peanut allergy is strict avoidance of peanut and immediate use of injectable epinephrine if allergic reaction occurs. But, recent studies show promise that in the future we may have a way to desensitize patients to the peanut so that they no longer have bad reactions after exposure to peanut. This would be a wonderful advance in the practice of allergy medicine, and many patients and their families would be greatly relieved from the constant anxiety associated with this dangerous disease process.
Peanut allergy requires close supervision by a physician to assure appropriate avoidance measures and to keep an up-to-date injectable epinephrine source always in the patient’s presence. The only proven life-saving medicine for a dangerous reaction is immediate epinephrine. Don’t think that Benadryl or some other over-the-counter medicine is sufficient to stop one of these terrifying “freight train” allergy reactions.
If you or anyone you know has a peanut allergy, be sure medical care for this scary problem is underway. This is not a forgiving medical diagnosis. Sometimes lack of proper care can have the worst of outcomes. Hopefully, in the future, we will be able to reduce these types of episodes if the peanut desensitization plan becomes available.
Dr. Matthew Clark is the owner of Covenant Family Allergy on Knox Avenue in North Augusta.