Our daughter was diagnosed with PA when she was about 13 months old. I had noticed a reaction to peanut butter, her cheeks turned bright red, and since she didn't like it either, I avoided it. Then I took her to a babysitter and told the caregiver no peanuts or peanut butter, but she gave Mandi a peanut butter cookie (duh?). One bite and I was called from work and we were on our way to the doctor's office. This was considered a mild reaction, swollen lips, eyes swollen shut, and a little face swollen so bad we had to take pictures for people to believe us. The pictures also helped us convince some family skeptics.
Mandi is now 23 years old. She has made a couple of trips to the ER. She says that the first indication of a reaction is a "funny" feeling on her tongue. Then nausea, swollen lips and some trouble breathing. She gets a hive-like rash from skin contact with peanuts/peanut shells.
As she has gotten older, she is now sensitive to other legumes such as peas and lentils.
People are much better educated about PA now than they were then. I had trouble making people take me seriously. Consequently, I made Mandi responsible for what she ate. We read labels, took our own snacks to birthday parties, packed a sack lunch to school, (She can't stand cold cheese sandwiches to this day), and emphasized and re-emphasized the seriousness of a reaction. It is sad to note that a couple of well-publisized deaths in our area helped bring this matter closer to home. I have also noticed that some of the biggest offenders are people who are mildly allergic to other foods. After all, what harm is a little rash??
On Dec 10, 1999
Thanks for posting. It is really good to hear from a mother whose child grew up with a peanut allergy. There are some days I need to remember that she is growing up and will continue to do so as long as we keep a watch out for what she eats. My daughter is 5 and is allergic to soy and peas (two other legumes) as well as nuts and coconuts.
Thanks again for posting.
On Mar 17, 2000
Hi. I just found this web site and am 37 and allergic to peanuts. I so appreciate what you said about making the child as responsible as they can be for their age. My parents did this with me while still creating a safe environment by working with the leaders of the groups in which I participated.
My parents always made me feel special. When my siblings got peanuts at the boardwalk, I was the lucky one who had salt water taffy.
Independence is important. I know of many situations in which my parents were scared and I was. My reactions are the extreme ones. But at some time Mom and Dad won't be there. Teach them to make food decisions themselves.
My parents and I managed the situation together. As a result I have had many successes in my life. And the allergy has never held me back, just made me march along to my own beat!
I have a nephew who has severe allergies and see what challenges my sister has. And it gives me a new appreciation for my parents.
On Mar 20, 2000
Cathleen, Thank you so much for your post. Would you mind telling us how many reactions you have had, what caused these reactions, and what your symptoms were? As a mother of a PA child, I think this information will help me better understand and cope. Unfortunately, for the past 8 years, I don't think I've spent a single hour not worrying about my daughter's next reaction. She is 9 now, and only had one reaction at 13 months. Thanks so much.
On Mar 31, 2000
I would be glad to tell you about my reactions. Let me preface the discussion. When you read about the reaction it is scary, and you have to avoid letting that fear control how you live your life. A person has to live sensibly, but still fully enjoy the life they have. It can be done.
I have not had a reaction in over 10 years. So, let me recall them.
The first clue I have an alert, is the food does not "taste right". The next clue is the back of my tongue and inside of my mouth stings/tingles. My eyes start itching and I start wheezing some. Then the full blown reaction quickly kicks in where I become disoriented, my eyes get really swollen, I struggle for every breath, my mouth and face get numb. And of course the hives and nausea.
I guess my roughest years were as a teenager and college student. A teenager, when you start to fully control your own diet, will make poor decisions. Not reading ingredients or not asking at a restaurant or fast food place. And two different college cafeterias got me... who knows what leftovers they mix in to their mystery food.
We are in a better world now. Epipens. Better food product labelling. High expense of peanut oil vs. vegetable oil. Broader awareness of the allergy.
Some of my tips for avoiding foods with peanuts:
Read product labels on everything, even if it is one of your comfort foods. Ingredients do change.
Stay away from baked goods that do not come out of a kitchen you know and can ask.
If it has any kind of nut i.e. walnut, pecan, etc, don't eat it. It is amazing how frequently they are interchanged with peanuts.
If it doesn't taste right at the first bite, don't eat it.
If it stings don't eat it. (This is tough, because certain other foods cause this same sensation. For instance sesame oil or really rich chocolate. I now tend to avoid these.) Once I figured this clue out, it has helped me to avoid more reactions.
Any time you go out, let the waiter/waitress know that you are severely allergic and tell them to specifically check in the kitchen for the foods you order and confirm back to you.
When your child goes on a playdate, make it really clear to the other parent. I remember being in tears as one parent tried to make me eat a PB&J sandwich.
Make sure your child knows if they think they are having a reaction to seek help immediately and to know what to say and what medicine is their best option.
I hope these tips help you in a practical way. And just think you child may ultimately be healthier for it. It will keep them away from a certain amount of junk food and candy.
On Apr 1, 2000
When you say tingling/stinging mouth I am intrigued. I had that one time when I was drinking red wine. I kept telling my friends that my mouth was tingling and feeling funny. It eventually went away. I have had my fair share of red wine in my life and it has never happened before or since. I think I remember the particular type. If it was sulfites I would be surprised because it is in just about every wine. The only other thing I'm allergic to that I know of is crab and I'm sure that had nothing to do with it. (We were at my house and not eating anything at the time)
On Apr 10, 2000
I was under the impression that there were no other food allergies in my family history but now after reading the "tingling sensation" mentioned here I have to wonder. My 2 year old son is PA. I have always had a tingling sensation in my mouth after eating walnuts, it kind of makes my mouth feel numb. I have always avoided them because of that. I am now wondering if maybe it is something else all together?? Any ideas??
Katiee (Wade's mom)
On Apr 10, 2000
Dear all: I am new to this site. I am 49 years old and am the most allergic person I know to peanuts. I can't be in the room with them. My eyes swell shut and I can't breathe. I have had so many "accidents" and have become that sensitive. But for all you parents out there, I am 49, married with three daughters none of which are highly allergic (just a little rash, not anaphylatic ,to milk and citrus, one daughter, another is allergic to penicllin)Have my own consulting business and even travel ( not on South West Airlines though! I am VERY CAREFUL. I don't eat in restaurants, bring all my own food, most of which is not processed at all. Fresh fruits, vegetables ( not legumes ofcourse)cheeses, and cooked meats. I bring a small ice chest on the plane with me. It can be done! I am glad this website is available. Yours, Emily
------------------ EmilyB Good Luck to you!
On Apr 10, 2000
Thank you for the post!! It is encouraging to me to hear stories of how adults have managed throughout their lives. I have always tried to keep my son's PA as a SMALL part of his entire life. He is very active in many things and attends a regular preschool. I do not believe in peanut bans because I believe they give a false sense of security. He needs to live with this allergy in a realistic way!! It may be a bit different from the way an "average" child lives, but it his life and he needs to accept it and deal with it. I know it will always be a part of him, but I've always stressed to him that this allergy is not all of him. Thanks again and I hope you always stay safe!!!!
On Apr 10, 2000
May be worth being careful for a while following a reaction......
This is based on an experience that BJ my PA and other nut/sesame son and I shared. We had been to London for a Peanut challenge as part of a research study. He has a late phase reaction so he can eat peanuts (he likes the taste!?!?) but will then react violently (sometimes upt to 2 hours later). When he was challenged he went off like a greyhound (no, not the bus!). After a night of steroid support (and little sleep for me..) we were discharged and took the train home to Cambridgeshire.
Whilst on the train, I noticed the smell of peanuts - I couldn't see anyone eating them... not surprisingly BJ went off in style...complaining of tightness, dyspnoea, and stomach cramps. He was tachycardic, erythaemic and had hives. He also started to lose consciousness.
I jumped into RN mode (I used to work in Anaesthetics!) and Epi-penned him, called ahead to the Hospital at our destination and also the Control Room for my county (I now work for the PD) who co-ordinated a paramedic crew to meet us.
What we found out later was a startling coincidence and hasn't been clinically proven; however.......
When travelling to London a few months later I noticed the same smell at almost the same spot. There was a cereal processing plant producing a well known breakfast cereal near the station where I first noticed the smell. When I discussed the matter with the plant manager it transpired that they did make a Honey-Nut version at the plant. On the day I travelled alone the smell was there but they were not actively processing any nuts. On the day that BJ and I travelled they were....
Even though a couple of hundred yards of 'free air' separated the station from the plant, it seems that the airborne contamination was sufficient to exacerbate the recently increased sensitivity.
So beware, one reaction may follow another...
By the way; also worth considering tree and plnat allergy... BJ recently had complete hives but no 'systemic' reaction after playing in a Cupressus tree (Cypress)