Smelling peanuts causes mild to severe reaction..anyone else with this sensitivity ?.

Original: to the site...felt the need to reach out because my allergy to peanuts seems to get worse as i age. Im a 48 year old female with a severe allergy to peanuts...i have learned over the years how not to ingest them ( sudden and immediate -all symptom reaction) - however, im now finding that im just as sensitive to smelling peanuts/ peanut products. My co-workers have been kind to stay away when they have snacked on something with peanuts..and although i would still smell the peanuts..i would get a very mild tingle, lips and tongue- but now, my symtoms kick in before i smell them and just being in the same room is becoming unbearable...( i have to notify my HR dept of the issue as well as the need to now keep an epipen available and im sure they wil shut down the "peanut gallery" )my co-workers know of my allergy..and i never made a huge deal..but now its dangerous..and its not just work...was at a party and someone unveiled chinese chicken salad and i hadda leave...just wanted to know if others have this type of sensitivity and/or if anyone notices their allergy becoming more intense as they age. I have always itched when smelling peanuts but now i not only itch, i get alot of the other major symtoms.

By olmck on May 25, 2012

I'm afraid it does!! To be precise it is not smelling them per se. It is to do being inhaling very small invisible particles which circulate in the air.

To some extent this may depend on the air quality and environment. If in a very closed environment eg in aeroplane it is not unusual for severe peanut allergy sufferers to have an allergic ( possibly and anaphylactoid reaction)even without tasting or eating peanuts. This is the reason come airlines no longer provide peanuts as a snack. This is well documented in the allergy literature and research.

By Malka003 on Feb 28, 2013

Janjan Its not inyour head!! Ppl who think that need education!! How do they think hayfever and pollen allergies work!!?? There are particles in the air!!! There are documented cases of children who Have died at school because the other Children were eating peanut butter!! Peanut butter allergy is no joke!! Most ppl DO NOT , grow out of it.. Yep there are Studies showing ppl do -- research/ those cases Were not "severe" or true allergic reactions ( kinda like the little kids who grow out if Egg allergies).. Bodies just need time to learn How to digest the proteins. furthermore, As to why your allergy seems to be "getting worse" Each time you have a reaction-- it does get worse For ppl with life threating allergies to peanuts!! This can all be looked up on proper medical Journals.. And your allergist will most likely Varify.. Keep telling HR.. And meanwhile, if your Co workers insist on eating pb.. Hav benadryl & epi Ready, and you may want to hav a coworker Learn how to adm incase it goes to far to fast!! Sad how when ppl arent edu they say things Are "In your head".. If they ever had a loved one Nearly die from an allergic reaction-- that tuen Would change sooo fast!!!

By ItsInYourHead on Sep 14, 2009

Smeeling peanuts does not cause a reaction... It's in your head.... get over it

By jenniferbfab on Sep 14, 2009

The comment from Itsinyourhead doesn't really help answer your questions, does it?

My son is not quite 6 years old, so I unfortunately cannot answer the question of sensitivity increasing with age. I am hoping another member or reader here can assist with this question.

I did find this excerpt from The Peanut Allergy Answer Book (see page 49 (Can the odor of peanuts cause an allergic reaction):

Hope this information helps.

Best, Jennifer B.

By Brandon1580 on Sep 15, 2009

It is not in your head my son has never had this problem b/c i dont let him go any where near peanuts. But a few years back my aunt which is now in her 30's went to a party that they were cooking sea food she never ate it because it made her "feel bad" she ended up in the hospital where the confirmed her sea food allergy and gave her an epi-pen so yes you can have an allergic reaction from smell.

I can only guess that from every exposure your allergies are getting worse stay away from them!

By JanJan on Sep 15, 2009

Hi and thanks...i may order that book... airborne peanut particles can cause reactions..i have always had reactions to smelling peanut odors. the problem is that the reaction is sooo surprising and immediate - because i make it my business to stay away from them- gotta keep epipen close by- and i have had reactions to peanuts that i didnt smell, just someone eating them across the room... thanks jenniferbfab and Brandon1580....

By Malka003 on Feb 28, 2013

No its not in " ur head!!"

By ItsInYourHead on Sep 15, 2009

No it really is in your head.

Full article

Educate yourself and children... it will make you "feel" better

By jenniferbfab on Sep 16, 2009

ItsinYourHead is linking to an article I've read before, and my son actually is a patient of the allergist who authored that piece. The information is helpful, and I trust Dr. Young. I think, however, we need to keep in mind that people visit this site for support.

Downplaying symptoms someone is experiencing--whether an allergic reaction or psychological is not supportive or helpful. Since we aren't present during the occasions JanJan has described, we don't really know what sort of peanuts (what form) are present and if any airborne particles are present. Without all the details, we cannot really judge.

Jennifer B

By Lemonaid on Sep 16, 2009

I have recently been diagonsed with a Peanut Allergy and I can tell you that I was in a meeting yesterday where two people were eating peanuts and I was wheezing, coughing and having to take a deep breaths by the time I left the meeting. Hours later my throat was still swollen. My allergy seems to be getting worse instead of better. I would of never thought that in my late 30's that I would developed a peanut allergy. I can assure you it was not in my head...

By JanJan on Sep 17, 2009

yes...exposure to peanuts in any form is a theat to health and lifestyle....the shelled peanuts are the worse. I work in an office and last week someone had shelled peanuts and and without enterin their space, i experienced a reaction which took 2 days to shake off. And on the 3rd day , i was exposed twice, a kiss from a snickers eater and a party in which the chinese chicken salad was placed at my table. and these were not mild reactions..thats when i joined this site. I have shared info from this site with co-workers so they will understand my allergy...they were under the assumption that i had to ingest the peanut to have a reaction. IsInYourHead, thanks for the article, it was very informative. Inhaling or smelling...i still experience some type of reaction...protecting myself from a serious anaphylactic episode is my main objective at this point. I appreciate all of the comments to this post.

By Michaels Mom on Sep 17, 2009

Is anyone else viewing this thread with the right margin missing? The past two times I've visited, some threads are like this...It almost seems like it has something to do with the box listing the moderators and such, but extends all the way down the page...

By jenniferbfab on Sep 17, 2009

Hi Michaels Mom,

When I look at this page, I see the moderators box on the right, and then there is another box which has the 5 most recent new forum topics. Then there is another empty box that goes all the way down.

Jennifer B

By Michaels Mom on Sep 17, 2009

Now it's OK...earlier the box that goes all the way down was overlapping the text so that I couldn't read the last few words of each line...weird.

By lakeswimr on Oct 2, 2009


I'm very sorry you are having reactions at work. I would think it is MUCH more likely that you are reacting to peanut residue on surfaces at work than that you are reacting to the smell of peanuts. FAAN, etc have done studies that showed that people do not react to the smell of peanuts when done with a double blind placebo test. Some did react but they were smelling the placebo, not the peanuts. Additionally, testing showed that there are ZERO peanut proteins in the air above peanut butter. Of course those little packs of peanuts on airplanes can cause enough peanut dust to get into the air filtration system of the place to cause anaphylaxis when sufficient #s of people open them at roughly the same time but that is very different than being in an office with one person eating a peanut product. It is also VERY different than being around seafood or foods that are being baked, heated or cooked in some way. Seafood and also foods that are baked, etc release proteins into the air. Agitating large amounts of a food (for example, opening a bag of flour) also releases proteins into the air. Someone eating peanuts in the same room isn't going to release proteins into the air.

What IS going to happen, though, is that person is going to them touch surfaces in the office. They will touch door handles, water fountains, pens, papers, water faucet handles, etc. And then a food-allergic person can come along, touch those same surfaces, touch his or her eyes, nose or mouth (*there by INGESTING the proteins*) and have a reaction. I would suspect that is what is happening. I would want my coworkers to please try to wash or wipe their hands after eating things with peanuts and I would try my best to avoid touching my face unless I had just washed my hands. I would also request that my allergist do a smell test with both the real thing and placebo so that you can see that smell isn't causing ana. The chances that smell is doing this are very small to zero. The chances that there is food residue affecting you are much higher. Sadly there are various cases of people having anaphylaxis to this type of exposure and even at least one tragic death. My son has had anaphylaxis to this type of exposure.

Best wishes.

By JanJan on Oct 4, 2009

Thank you lakeswimr for your input.. i work graveyard shift in a department which never closes....ever...and..we share desks...and upon further investigation, i found that my "deskmate" had been eating peanuts during his shift at "our" desk along with the others who were eating peanuts in the area.. I was director and HR department have been notified and at some point, will have to make the department ( including the vending machines ) peanut free. I've been active in educating my co-workers on the potential health risks to me and they have been very receptive. They were not aware of the extreme care needed to avoid peanut exposure. I'm hoping I will never have to use the epi-pen that I now have to keep at my desk. ( I've used the epi-pen to relay to everyone there, the seriousness of the issue and have instructed them what to do )... also, at this time of year, there is candy everywhere...and to my surprise, I see more candy with the peanut alerts on them and so have my co-workers an thats been great!!! i have a candy bowl on my desk with "peanut free" candies and give them examples....raising awareness is the key !!!

By Malka003 on Feb 28, 2013

Ty yes there are cases where children hav died.. Not as common .. But they are there

By lakeswimr on Oct 2, 2009

Warning--tragic story in this link about a child's fatality from being in the same room with his father who was eating peanuts. The boy and the father touched the same remote control.

It is very important that you are protected in some way from food residue on people's hands. I'd want them eating only in certain designated places and I'd want there to be wipes right there for them to use immediately afterward. No one should be putting life threatening allergen dishes on your desk or anywhere near you ever. I wish you luck getting these needed things added to your work environment.

Some people have used things like glitter to demonstrate how food proteins can get on all sorts of surfaces. If you put some glitter on your hands and touch things they will see the remains of glitter around the office for a long while to come. Just an idea to raise awareness.

By lakeswimr on Oct 6, 2009

Actually, I think the research on this is very important to know. It is important for those with food allergies to know to protect themselves from contact ingestion. It sounds like you have a workplace that has not taken care to protect you from contact ingestion. Contact ingestion means you touch some surface/thing that has peanut residue on it from others who previously ate peanut butter touching it and then you touch your eyes, nose or mouth, thereby ingesting the allergen. Particularly if you are sharing a desk with someone who was eating peanut products you could certainly have a serious reaction. YOu could also have a serious reaction if your 'allergy-free' candy gets eaten by someone who has allergen residue on his/her hands and then YOU reach in that same bowl and eat the now cross contaminated candy. Knowing this and taking steps to protect yourself from this is important. If you think falsely that you are reacting not to this type of exposure but someone eating peanuts across the room from you then you won't know how to take the right steps to protect yourself.

I would assume it is much more likely that the above poster's child had a reaction not to the person eating a peanut product several rows up but rather to touching something (her seat for example) that had allergen-residue on it and then touching her eyes, nose or mouth. That type of reaction is clearly documented and is very, very possible. There are zero proteins in the air above peanut butter. Proteins from a recess or pb cookie, etc are not going to float from the other side of the room to where you are sitting and cause you to react. It is important to know that and it is very, very important that your coworkers start taking care to keep you from peanuts. I'm glad you are working to protect yourself. It stinks that you have to ask others to accommodate you but you REALLY do, esp since you share a desk with others. You have a right to be safe at work.

Best wishes.

By JanJan on Oct 6, 2009

thanks for your are so right..what is research when you know what is REAL.?? I had childhood asthma and I am still prone to attacks..I told the pharmacist to put my peanut allergy in their computer and the Alupent inhaler came back as having a peanut product in it !!!!! go figure !!! Also, I've been reading more about research techniques and findings and I get really puzzled- because as a known PA myself..why would i even subject myself to such deadly testing?? So, I have to question the results of some of those tests and the participants... I hope your daughter always has access to an an epi-pen, don't take any chances...reactions can happen very quick and a PA's life can be seriously threatened...totally by surprise.!!! lakeswimr provided a link to a story regarding a child and the necessity of a parents full awareness of the allergy and its effect. The story is sad so beware.

By momthatknows on Oct 5, 2009

I would just like to say that in your head is out of theirs...... My daughter and I went to a local basketball game and in the middle of the game she started to get sick. I thought maybe it was in her head so we stayed a while longer and at half time when the people got up I could see 3 rows down that some people had been eating recesse(spelling??)peanut butter cups. She was only 7 and could not see down that far to make this up. Sooooo you actually can get sick. Doing research and actually going through this experience are 2 different worlds. Get a Clue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not a Dr. but I am a mom who pays attention. enough said.

By lovebugsco on Jun 15, 2010

Hi - I realize this is an older topic but, I came across it and wanted to share our experience. Both of my kids are airborne to their allergens. "Itsallinyourhead" needs to have his head examined! Why does it seem unreasonable to have an airborne food allergy? If you have a pollen allergen, is that not airborne?

We went to a wake last fall for a family member and there was an abundance of food and home baked goodies there. The kids knew not to eat anything, not to go in the room with the food, not to touch their face at all and to be aware of who was touching them. During the hour we were there, someone brought in fresh baked pizza and I knew I had to get the kids out of there. The smell of cheese was overwhelming. So, we left and did not even make it a block before my DA daughter was wheezing and struggling to breath. So, I pulled over and hooked her up to her portable nebulizer and gave her benedryl. We got home and my PA child called me into his room to look at his bleeding legs. I went in and saw that his legs were covered in very flared eczema and hives. It took two rounds of benedryl to calm his skin reaction. Neither child ate anything there and I watched them like a hawk and washed their hands so, I am certain it was not contact.. besides with contact, their eyes swell shut and hives present differently and both kids were wearing long sleeves and pants. So.. I share all of this to say, it is not in my head or theirs... airborne is very much a reality for us and we see reactions on an almost daily basis. My heart goes out to you! I hope things at work have improved!

By Samantha418 on Apr 12, 2011

Smelling peanuts can definitely cause reactions in PA people. I myself am 22 years old and gave been allergic all my life and have had reactions to the smell of peanuts. "Peanut Dust" is one of the most airborne food allergens and is actual peanut particles in the air that, once inhailed, can cause allergic reactions.

By Jaydy11 on Jul 22, 2011

I know this thread is a bit old, but that is how I found out I was allergic to peanuts. I never liked peanuts or peanut butter. When I was 7 I tried peanut butter again (I never liked it, and since everyone else did I wanted to try it again. I was always got picked on for it) anyways, I tried it and I remember asking my brother "Doesn't it make your throat itch and feel like it's stuck?" never realizing I had an allergic reaction!!!

Anyways, in 8th grade consumer economics class, she was opening a jar of peanut butter. Before hand she asked if anyone was allergic, I raised my hand because we had an idea that we thought I might be allergic. Never did I think severely!! Anyways, since I raised my hand she had me sit in the back of the classroom.

She opened the jar and right when the smell crossed my nose I started coughing and wheezing and I was really dizzy. My bronchial tube and throat were swelling up, just from that stupid smell!! I see there's contradicting answers here, and the person "ItsAllinYourHead" is obviously just a troll looking to annoy people.

It couldn't have been a placebo effect, because I would have NEVER thought that you could get a reaction to a food without eating it. I was like 14, would you think anything about it? Anyways, the point here is that yes, you can get a reaction from the particles in the air. Also, yes peanut allergies get more severe with age in some cases!!!

By Michael Sporer on Jul 23, 2011


By Vikingmom on May 17, 2013

The article referenced by Itsinyourhead was done by one of the doctors who is paid by FAAN, a known mouthpiece for the peanut industry. (Their school program was developed and funded by The Peanut Foundation).

We lost a family member to a respiratory reaction to peanuts she neither ingested or touched. She was in a coma when the ambulance arrived and died at the hospital. My son has reacted several times when someone opens peanut granola bar packages nearby. it is Not In Anyone's head. only those whose pocketbooks are adversely affected by peanut bans want people to think we make up airborne peanut allergies. Educate yourself and be careful of the sources.

By on Aug 27, 2013

This is in response to JanJan's original post I have what they call food "sensitivity" to peanuts, I consider it an allergy bc I have a reaction when I eat or am inhale the smell of peanuts. Just bc I get migraines instead of going into shock its considered a sensitivity...ok thats just semantics!! Anyway to get off my rant, I started getting migraines when I was about 19 and discovered what caused it a couple yrs later. I used to be able to cheat and have a peanut butter sandwich or two once in awhile until 1 day at work a lady was walking by my desk and I smelled an overwhelming peanut smell that left me nausceous and headachy for awhile after bthat. That was 4yrs ago and now I make sure to stay far away from it and anyone that is eating it! I am now 43 and believe my allergy/sensitivity has gotten worse. And this is for the moron that said it's all in "your" need to grow up!! If you had to deal with this you wouldnt be making such idiotic statements!!

By christi4777 on Sep 15, 2013

I had an adult onset peanut allergy and it continues to grow to the point of annoyance! Being in a public place becomes more and more difficult. The other day I was at a luncheon where one of the options was a Chinese chicken salad. I had a turkey sandwich and after 45 minutes of being in the room lost all capacity to speak. My lymph nodes and glands swelled...ears and throat hurt and I could barely squeak out a sound. This has become a common problem for me. Started a couple years ago and just keeps increasing. Driving through the wineries I had the same reaction. Come to find out there were walnut orchards. Is anyone else finding they are becoming this sensitive? It's quite annoying. :(

By Matilda on Sep 24, 2013

Hello!! Its happening to me!! I am 33 and have only ever had a food allergy to raw fruits that have pits with the exception of mangos. I am also allergic to raw carrots and apples. I have a mild allergy with symptoms like itchy lips, cheeks, throught and even the skin on my neck. The most severe reactions are from eating cherries, plums, and peaches. The change is that recently I was eating peanut butter and I experienced symptoms of my fruit allergy. I also noticed it with foods I have always consumed like almonds, assorted nuts and fruit mixtures, all flavors and styles of peanuts, nuttella, and reces peanut butter cups. I can tolerate it now but it has been on my mind whether or not it is going to get worse. I do have hay-fever, an allergy to cats and about 7 years ago i noticed being around smoke makes me stuffy. ( I quit 10 years ago..I would have never known.) Just thought I'd share my experience related to yours. I have been pondering different causes other than the fruits like pesticides or a lack of vitamin B's in my system and I'm rejecting it. I guess only time will tell!!