What treatments are available for a peanut allergy?

Currently, there is no treatment that can cure your peanut allergy reliably. The best way of managing your allergies is simply to avoid your allergen – in this case, peanuts, and anything with peanuts in them. Read ingredients and labels carefully to find out whether foods contain peanuts. If you allergies are severe, even a small amount might trigger a dangerous reaction.

Peanuts can find their way into a large variety of foods – things might be ground with peanuts (such as chilli) or cooked in peanut oil. Other foods might also be stored in the same containers as peanuts once were or might share processing facilities and equipment. These are all chances for peanut allergens to get into other foods.

Although it might be a good idea to avoid all nuts, peanuts are technically legumes, not nuts, so you might not develop an allergic reaction if you eat other types of nut. However, some people with peanut allergies can also cross-react and develop allergies to tree nuts and other types of nut too. It is also possible to cross-react with soya and suffer from allergic symptoms when you eat soya-containing products. Sampling a tiny amount of food to see if it is safe is a risky practice, and you should refrain from doing it, especially if the label on the food indicates that there may be peanuts or peanut allergens in the food.

If you do accidentally eat some peanut-containing foods and suffer from an anaphylactic reaction, it is important that you are given some adrenaline as soon as possible. You should also call an ambulance for emergency medical attention. If you have allergies, it is a good idea to carry an EpiPen (containing adrenaline) around with you at all times, so it can be given to you by yourself or a friend if needed.

Antihistamines tablets are unlikely to help you with your peanut allergies. They can mask the initial symptoms but they might not stop the reaction progressing and becoming worse. You might not realise that you are having problems until your symptoms suddenly get worse. The cause might also not be so apparent. Take extra care if you are taking antihistamines for other allergies (such as hay fever).

There has been a lot of research into desensitisation therapy for allergies. Trials have been conducted at various universities where children with peanut allergies were slowly exposed to increasing amounts of peanuts over the course of many months. This appeared to cure the children of their allergy. Desensitisation therapy can be long and difficult, and is not guaranteed to work. However, it might be worth speaking to your doctor about.

Allergen-free peanuts have also been developed, and there is interest in the scientific community in allergen-free peanut butter as well.

Peanut Allergies Guide Index:

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