Many people are not sure what the difference is between a mild reaction and a severe reaction to peanuts
If a parent is alert and observing their toddler when peanuts are first introduced, the chance of the child receiving help if she has a reaction is greatly increased. Parents need to know exactly what to look for that could be life threatening. Sometimes a child is allergic to peanuts even if there is no known allergy in the family.
Introduce peanut butter very slowly
Toddlers should not be given peanuts to eat because of the risk of choking, but by the age of two or three, most pediatricians agree that it is safe to spread a thin layer of peanut butter on soft bread for the child to eat. The first few times that the child eats a peanut product, the parent needs to observe him carefully for any peanut allergy symptoms. If anything seems different after a bite or two of the sandwich, such as the child begins to scratch himself around his mouth, complains of itching, or breaks out in hives or a rash, parents must be alert to know what step to take next.
Know the symptoms of peanut allergies and what to do
Parents need to act quickly if their child is showing any symptoms allergy from the peanut butter sandwich. According to the Mayo Clinic, allergic reactions to peanuts happen only minutes after eating. Since the parent will be sitting with the toddler as he eats, it will be noticeable if he suddenly develops a runny nose, shortness of breath or wheezing, or appears to have trouble breathing. If only a slight rash or runny nose appears, it may be wise to call the child's doctor, but the other symptoms definitely require an emergency room visit or emergency phone call to the pediatrician to see if she can see your child right away.
An antihistimine can help mild reactions
Mild symptoms like a few hives, a rash on a small part of the body, or runny nose can be treated at home with non-drowsy Benadryl that will help control the symptoms until you call your pediatrician.
Anaphylaxis is the most serious reaction
Recognizing and treating anaphylaxis is very important to know before your young child first eats peanut butter. Although it is rare for a child to die from anaphylaxis, it does happen and can happen again. Signs of anaphylaxis are dizziness or the child becomes unconscious. Other signs are having a lot of trouble breathing or rapid heartbeat. The throat can swell in a matter of minutes, making it impossible to breathe so it is important to call 911 immediately for help.
If you're not sure if your child had a mild reaction, allergy testing will reveal if a peanut allergy is present
Sometimes a young child eats a few bites of a peanut butter sandwich and then begins having a runny nose or complains of a stomach ache. If no other symptoms appear, it may have been coincidental that these symptoms occurred after eating. They may or may not be related to peanuts. To find out for sure, it is safer to have the child tested by an allergist to see if she is allergic to this food than to try again and risk having a serious allergic reaction or anaphylaxis.
Avoiding peanut products is the only treatment
There is currently no known cure for allergies to peanuts, and those who are allergic to this food need to carry medication with them at all times in case they accidentally eat food with peanuts in it.