Health

How Can a Peanut Allergy Affect Children?

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Peanut allergy symptoms can be as simple as a runny nose, or they can be life-threatening

The way that a child who is allergic to peanuts or peanut products reacts can be unpredictable. Peanut allergy symptoms are often mild. They could be a stuffy or runny nose after eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or a mild reaction may show up as a rash on a small part of the child's body. These symptoms should not be ignored because according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, peanut reactions can be different each time that an allergic child eats peanuts because the body reacts differently each time.

Watch your child closely when he eats peanut butter for the first few times

Allergists generally say that the first symptom that a child often experiences if he is allergic to peanuts is a tingling around the mouth. If a two-year old or three-year old child is eating peanut butter for the first time, the parent should observe the child to see if he begins rubbing or scratching the area around the mouth. If hives begin to erupt on his skin and the child seems to be having difficulty breathing, the reaction is serious and emergency treatment should be sought before the symptoms worsen.

Other common allergic reactions to peanuts

Many children develop shortness of breath or wheezing after eating peanuts. They may have trouble breathing and they feel tightness in their chest. Digestive problems can also result from a peanut allergy, but these usually take a bit longer to develop. Diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, or stomach cramps can cause severe pain. If these occur after the child eats, a food allergy should be suspected.

The most severe allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis can be deadly if not treated immediately. It is a very serious reaction that the child has after eating peanut products. This happens when breathing becomes very difficult due to swelling in the child's throat. Airways constrict that make breathing even more difficult, and the child may go into shock due to a severe drop in blood pressure. The child's pulse becomes very fast and he becomes dizzy and may lose consciousness. Parents need to call 911 immediately if this happens.

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Once a peanut allergy is diagnosed, parents should be prepared for the worst

Allergic reactions can vary in how severe they are, so there is always a chance that a runny, stuffy nose could turn into something far more serious another time that the food is eaten. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends that parents of young children who are found to be allergic to peanuts should keep an epinephrine auto-injector carrying casesavailable at all times. These can be kept at home and taken wherever the child goes in case she accidentally eats a food that contains bits of peanuts.