Reaction to peanut particles in the air

Posted on: Sun, 09/02/2018 - 5:38am
yonseipark's picture
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Joined: 09/02/2014 - 12:02

Hi, I have a 7-year-old son who has been diagnosed with PA at the age of 2.5. Although it's been hard to live with PA, we send our kid to a school who handles it well, eat mostly at home, etc. so we don't live with anxiety every moment. But one thing that recently made me start worrying is air travel.

We fly once or twice a year to go see some relatives. Since we found out about our kid's PA, we've been flying only UA as they don't serve peanuts. My kid has shown pretty severe reaction (not anaphylaxis, but close to it) when he actually ate it but he hasn't shown any reaction when other kids ate peanut butter around him. We never asked his allergist whether our kid is allergic to airborne particles and the allergist also didn't mention anything about it. She just told us to avoid eating it. So whenever other people asked if my kid is airborne allergice, I said no.

My question is how much sensitivity can cause a person to react to airborne particles and if there is any method to know it in advance. I saw two incidents in which a person with PA showed severe action on the UA planes (meaning they didn't serve peanuts) to some airborne peanuts which other passengers ate couple of rows away. I had a discussion with my husband and he said our kid would probably react to airborne peanuts but the chances are low. I don't know if the reason our kid didn't show any reaction on the planes in the past was because no one ate peanuts nearby or if my kid didn't have reaction even if someone ate peanuts nearby.

Seeing other incidents thousands feet up in the air just makes me nervous and I know airlines can't stop other passengers eating peanuts they bring. I would much appreciate your opinion/knowledge on this.

Posted on: Wed, 09/03/2014 - 2:20pm
GrownUpLaurenMom's picture
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Joined: 07/17/2014 - 22:44

No information as to 'how much it takes' because I'm not even sure that is known. Quite a bit of debate about airborne allergies even in the community. DD has airborne reacted before, we believe.
But, as a side note, we have flown Jet Blue a few times and had nothing but wonderful experiences. They did not even serve peanuts/tree-nuts in flight and asked passengers to refrain from eating so that "we can all get to our destination safely and on-time". We were allowed to board early, wipe down seats and we all brought with us medical grade masks. We informed the crew before we got on the plane so that if we had to pull them out, we wouldn't scare passengers (Which totally cracks me up. Here we would be putting on masks to protect our daughter's life from an inconsiderate passenger and I'm considerate enough about not wanting to scare people). We brought enough masks for the entire family so that DD wouldn't feel funny about having it on.

Posted on: Fri, 09/05/2014 - 8:06am
PeanutAllergy.com's picture
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Joined: 06/21/2013 - 11:03

Question of the Week: Answered!
Every week, PeanutAllergy.com answers one of the questions posted in our community.
Our Answer:
This is a great question! You are smart to look up a peanut-free airline and stick with it. All too often do we hear about reactions on planes because of uncontrollable events. Here is a helpful article on peanut free airlines.
You mention that your son does not react when other kids are eating peanut butter. That makes sense. Because peanut butter is more of a ‘paste’ than a solid, there are fewer particles that can fly into the air. However, be aware that in bags of peanuts there are small and very fine particles that can fly into the air after opening the bag, which may pose a problem for your son.
On previous flights you may have gotten lucky and not had open peanut bags near you. Alternatively, your son just may not react to particles of peanuts in the air, although it is always better to be safe than sorry. We highly suggest alerting the passengers around you of your son’s allergy. Most people will be accommodating and understand his condition if you educate them about his symptoms and what could happen if he comes into contact with peanut products.
Also, the first and best line of defense in the case of a reaction is an epinephrine auto-injector. To learn more about it, read this article. Having one or more of these auto-injectors can provide peace of mind while flying. Also, here are eight helpful tips on flying with a peanut allergy.
We asked our Facebook fans to share their thoughts on your question. You can read their helpful feedback here.

Posted on: Sun, 09/07/2014 - 1:36am
Epipenmamma's picture
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Joined: 11/05/2013 - 12:30

You have posed a great question. My son has a severe allergy to peanuts and tree nuts. We fly at least two times per year. We usually request that bags of nuts are not served, and for the most part, the airlines have been accommodating. However, on our recent 5 hour flight, bags of almonds (one of my son's allergens) WERE served. Within seconds of passengers opening their bags, my son began to have a mild reaction of watering eyes, extreme runny nose, and bright red cheeks. It was scary! This was the first time I had seen him experience a reaction from an airborne allergen. I always have his epi-pen present, however a severe reaction would most likely require medical care as we'll and this would be tough when your in the air. We were lucky that his reaction did not progress. We will continue to travel, however, we won't fly if they can't accommodate the "no bags of nuts to passengers" request.

Posted on: Sun, 09/07/2014 - 3:35am
Karli4's picture
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Joined: 09/07/2014 - 10:30

We just got home Friday from florida and had a very good experience on south west. My 4 year old son has a severe peanut allergy and they were great with not serving peanuts and letting me board first to clean his seat, tray table etc. my only complaint was they would not announce on board that he had a peanut allergy so other people on the plane could eat peanuts if they wanted too. Luckily we didn't have any issues at all.. I would say to book the first flight in the morning, we were told they don't serve peanuts that early and they are the cleanest planes. Plus, most people don't eat peanuts that early in the morning.
I was so worried about the flight but it went really well. Hope you have safe travels
Karli

Posted on: Sun, 09/07/2014 - 4:19am
Pamela S Hughes's picture
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Joined: 02/16/2014 - 13:37

Hi there -
Wow, do I ever have a response! Ok, our doctor who is a specialist in food allergies told us a while back that our son could not have a severe reaction to airborn peanut - it has to be ingested. That was good news and a HUGE relief. So I let our son (who is now 10) fly with his brother to visit grandparents as long as the airline knew ahead of time and they could board early to wipe down his area with disinfecting wipes.
SO... three weeks ago we are walking into a restaurant and he starts having a reaction. The restaurant is safe for him, we already checked and had been before. His reaction came on fast and was just like peanut reactions from the past (it had been years). We realized a peanut factory was just a couple of blocks away and the wind was blowing exactly in our direction. After using his inhaler and leaving, he was fine after a little bit.
When I called the doctor and spoke to the nurse she said "Peanut protein can never cause an airborn reaction." When I explained again about the peanut factory, she sounded like a robot and gave the exact same answer. I know she is wrong. Of course the peanut factory can carry peanut "dust" downwind that we can breathe. And that could cause some kind of reaction. And nurses are wonderful and can't know everything all the time. :) So now we realize we need to steer clear of that area and avoid livestock areas that may feed peanuts or peanut hay. New things to be aware of. The way he has flown so many times still seems to be fine. It is good you are thinking about this to keep your child safe. I hope this helps you as you rethink things too. :)

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