How Do People Become Allergic to Peanuts?

November 12, 2012

How Do People Become Allergic to Peanuts?

Peanuts are very common foods that cause allergies and they usually show up in all sorts of different foods, too. But how do people become allergic to peanuts, exactly?

The Truth about Peanuts

You might not know this, but peanuts aren’t actually nuts; they are legumes. However, they have the same kind of proteins as the ones that can be found in regular nuts, so people that are allergic to peanuts can be allergic to different nuts, as well. Some of the most common nut allergies tend to be linked to almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, macadamias, cashews, and pecans.

How Allergies Appear

Allergies happen when a person’s immune system thinks that food as harmless as a peanut or a regular nut is very harmful. It then responds by producing certain antibodies to that foods’ proteins to fight them off.

To do this, the antibodies release specific chemicals, like histamine, into the body. These antibodies tend to affect the respiratory system, skin, cardiovascular system and gastrointestinal tract of the person in a way that brings about the symptoms of allergies, such as wheezing, vomiting, swelling, stomach aches and itchy hives.

How People React to Allergies

Overall, the way a person reacts to food like peanuts or regular nuts differs from one to the other. Sometimes, a person who is allergic to peanuts can even react differently to them at different times. While peanuts might bring about mild reactions in some people and only affect one of their bodily systems, for example, they might bring about more extreme reactions in other people and actually affect several parts of their body. The majority of reactions that people have, though, usually only last less than 24 hours and affect the following bodily systems:

The Cardiovascular System

People who are allergic to peanuts might feel lightheaded or lose consciousness and faint after being exposed peanuts.

The Gastrointestinal System

Symptoms might appear in the form of vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, or stomach cramps.

The Skin

Reactions of the skin are very common in terms of allergic reactions and can appear in the form of red and itchy bumpy rashes, eczema, or swelling and redness around the face or mouth.

The Respiratory System

Symptoms might range from a stuffy or runny nose to water and itchy eyes. Sometimes, the coughing, wheezing and sneezing related to allergic reactions might trigger asthma, as well, though.

In the worst cases out there, people who are allergic to peanuts have gone through anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal reaction, which can make the person’s blood pressure drop and their airways swell. This could result in them having difficult breathing and losing consciousness because of it.

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