When you hear “allergy”, perhaps the first thing you think of is the kind of allergy that makes you sneeze and cough for hours. Then again, you’ve also probably heard of those allergies that can kill you.
Statistically, you’re probably not one of these people who unfortunately suffer from such a condition, but nevertheless, it’s interesting to know about them, most particularly the peanut allergy: one of the more common ones.
It’s not the same as nut allergies
You might have thought that all types of nuts would be lumped together under this condition, but turns out that this is a peanut-specific allergy, which means that those with this allergy can still consume almonds and walnuts and other tree nuts. However, research has shown that those allergic to peanuts tend to have a higher risk of also being allergic to other nuts.
It’s one of the most severe allergies
While peanuts seem harmless, this allergy is actually classified as one of the most harmful and severe ones due to how easy it is to set-off and how severe the effects can be. Symptoms include the typical diarrhea and swelling, but can extend to cardiac arrest.
It has a bad reputation
Peanut-allergy has been identified as the most common cause of death arising from anaphylaxis triggered by food. Anaphylaxis is a situation whereby the airways swell up and breathing is hindered, possibly ending in death. It’s pretty scary to think how this can happen to some people just by coming into contact or eating peanuts.
It might be avoided by eating peanuts when you’re young
Studies have found that introducing peanuts into your diet at a young age might help to decrease the risks of the allergy later on in life. Even better, pregnant women (who are not allergic) who consumed peanuts during pregnancy lowered the risk of their child developing the allergy.
It can be triggered even without eating it
Although more severe symptoms are triggered via ingestion, it is totally possible for someone to get rashes or hives just from coming into contact with peanuts. If it somehow gets into the bloodstream by the eyes or open wounds, then more severe reactions can happen.
It takes very very little peanut to trigger some people
For those who are extremely sensitive and allergic, it could take as little as 1/100th or 5 milligrams of a peanut to cause a reaction. It’s scary to think about how something so common and the size of a casual crumb could possibly kill someone! And now, this explains why Marcus Daley had such a severe reaction in the plane. After all, remember: the plane is an enclosed space.
Some types of peanut oil are actually safe for consumption
Yeah, it might be hard to understand how people allergic to peanuts can safely eat peanut oil, but the reason is simple! The allergy arises from a reaction to the proteins in peanuts and if the oil is highly processed, the proteins will be removed and the remaining oil is actually safe. However, it’s hard to actually know whether any traces of protein linger and thus it’s generally avoided.
While small in proportion, it affects a large number of people
In the United States, more than 3 million people (that’s almost 1% of the population) are reported to be allergic to peanuts, while in England, an estimated 4000 people are diagnosed with this allergy every year. While it might not seem like a lot, it does seem a little too much for something involving a tiny nut.
It is not necessarily a life sentence
While for most people, it is a lifelong condition, studies have shown that approximately 20% of children who display reactions to peanuts will eventually outgrow it. By age six, they are likely to stop showing symptoms when coming into contact with it.
The protein might not be easily removed
Although you might be tempted to use hand-sanitizer to remove traces of peanut protein, it turns out that while it might be good for killing bacteria, it’s not that effective at getting rid of peanut protein. You have to actually wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water in order to make sure that it’s all gone!