How do I know if my child has a peanut allergy?
Families who have food allergies are familiar with reading food labels and of being aware of everything that they or their allergic child eats. The problem is that peanut allergies are increasing in developed countries.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that 0.8% of children and 0.6% of adults in the United States have a peanut allergy. Numbers of children in Great Britain and in Canada double this amount. Although these numbers are very low, they have doubled in the past five years. Since peanut allergies are increasing, families that have never had to deal with food allergies are may now be faced with this problem.
Knowing the symptoms of peanut allergy reactions is important because they happen quickly
There isn't time to sit around and wonder what to do if your child has peanut allergy symptoms. These can appear as soon as ten to twenty minutes after eating. In fact, a rash may appear around a child's mouth if the peanut butter touches the child's skin. A child might also have swollen lips and may say that her mouth itches or "feels funny."
Other symptoms to watch for when your child first eats peanut butter
Some children develop rashes all over their face and other parts of their body. Other kids break out in hives that itch badly. The child may develop eczema as well. The skin reaction might be on a small part of the body or all over. non-drowsy Benadryl should be given to the child at this point. If no other symptoms appear, the doctor should be called for the next steps to take.
Symptoms of peanut allergy may not appear for a few hours
Some children have gastrointestinal reactions after eating a peanut butter cookie. The child may develop stomach cramps, diarrhea, or vomiting. If this happens, it is still a good idea to give your child Benadryl or another quick-acting antihistamine if he isn't already taking one. Report the incident to your doctor at your next visit if the child recovers in an hour or two with no other symptoms.
Itchy or watery eyes and other respiratory symptoms may occur
Mild symptoms of a child being allergic to peanuts may be a sudden stuffy or runny nose and eyes that itch. If parents see these symptoms developing shortly after their child eats a peanut butter sandwich, an antihistamine usually clears up the symptoms. A more serious symptom is when a child develops an asthma attack. The child may need to be taken to the hospital emergency room immediately.
A whole body allergic response requires a call to 911
Anaphylaxis is a whole body response that is a combination of allergic responses to peanuts. The child may have a lot of trouble breathing and even lose consciousness. Blood pressure drops, the mouth and tongue swell, and this condition can be life-threatening if emergency medical care is not provided immediately. Epinephrine will be prescribed for this child, and for any child who has had a serious allergic reaction to peanuts. This medication should be given to the day care provider or school, and parents should carry it with them any time that they are with their child.