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Treatments for Peanut Allergy

Treatment List for Peanut Allergy

The list of treatments mentioned in various sources for Peanut Allergy includes the following list. Always seek professional medical advice about any treatment or change in treatment plans.

  • Adrenalin injection if anaphylaxis
  • Antihistamine preparations to reduce symptoms
  • Complete avoidance of peanuts
  • Dietary challenge - small amounts of food given in controlled environment to help build tolerance
  • Treatment of peanut allergy is dependant upon the type of allergic symptom, the body system affected, and the severity of the reaction. Treatments for peanut allergies include:
  • Allergen avoidance - avoidance of peanuts and education of children and carers
  • Antihistamines - may help in mild reactions
  • Asthma medications such as inhaled beta agonists and inhaled corticosteroids - used to treat asthma which may have allergy as a contributing factor
  • Oral steroids - used in short courses for moderate allergic reactions especially with asthma symptoms or skin conditions
  • Topical steroids - used to treat skin manifestations such as eczema which may result from peanut allergy
  • Desensitisation - evidence is mixed, and efficacy dependant or the type of allergy and specific type of reaction
  • EpiPen - used as first line treatment prior to hospital care for those who have proven anaphylaxis to peanuts
  • Anaphylaxis is a severe life threatening allergic response and may occur in individuals with peanut allergies. Treatment includes:
  • Hospitalisation
  • IM adrenaline
  • High flow oxygen
  • Intravenous fluids
  • Intravenous and oral steroids
  • Nebulised bronchodilators
  • Nebulised adrenaline for upper airways obstruction

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The following are some of the latest treatments for Peanut Allergy:

Discussion of treatments for Peanut Allergy:

Food allergy is treated by dietary avoidance. Once a patient and the patient's doctor have identified the food to which the patient is sensitive, the food must be removed from the patient's diet. To do this, patients must read lengthy, detailed ingredient lists on each food they are considering eating. Many allergy-producing foods such as peanuts, eggs, and milk, appear in foods one normally would not associate them with. Peanuts, for example, are often used as a protein source and eggs are used in some salad dressings. The FDA requires ingredients in a food to appear on its label. People can avoid most of the things to which they are sensitive if they read food labels carefully and avoid restaurant-prepared foods that might have ingredients to which they are allergic.

In highly allergic people even minuscule amounts of a food allergen (for example, 1/44,000 of a peanut kernel) can prompt an allergic reaction. Other less sensitive people may be able to tolerate small amounts of a food to which they are allergic.

Patients with severe food allergies must be prepared to treat an inadvertent exposure. Even people who know a lot about what they are sensitive to occasionally make a mistake. To protect themselves, people who have had anaphylactic reactions to a food should wear medical alert bracelets or necklaces stating that they have a food allergy and that they are subject to severe reactions. Such people should always carry a syringe of adrenaline (epinephrine), obtained by prescription from their doctors, and be prepared to self-administer it if they think they are getting a food allergic reaction. They should then immediately seek medical help by either calling the rescue squad or by having themselves transported to an emergency room. Anaphylactic allergic reactions can be fatal even when they start off with mild symptoms such as a tingling in the mouth and throat or gastrointestinal discomfort.

Special precautions are warranted with children. Parents and caregivers must know how to protect children from foods to which the children are allergic and how to manage the children if they consume a food to which they are allergic, including the administration of epinephrine. Schools must have plans in place to address any emergency.

There are several medications that a patient can take to relieve food allergy symptoms that are not part of an anaphylactic reaction. These include antihistamines to relieve gastrointestinal symptoms, hives, or sneezing and a runny nose. Bronchodilators can relieve asthma symptoms. These medications are taken after people have inadvertently ingested a food to which they are allergic but are not effective in preventing an allergic reaction when taken prior to eating the food. No medication in any form can be taken before eating a certain food that will reliably prevent an allergic reaction to that food.

There are a few non-approved treatments for food allergies. One involves injections containing small quantities of the food extracts to which the patient is allergic. These shots are given on a regular basis for a long period of time with the aim of "desensitizing" the patient to the food allergen. Researchers have not yet proven that allergy shots relieve food allergies.

Infants and Children

Milk and soy allergies are particularly common in infants and young children. These allergies sometimes do not involve hives and asthma, but rather lead to colic, and perhaps blood in the stool or poor growth. Infants and children are thought to be particularly susceptible to this allergic syndrome because of the immaturity of their immune and digestive systems. Milk or soy allergies in infants can develop within days to months of birth. Sometimes there is a family history of allergies or feeding problems. The clinical picture is one of a very unhappy colicky child who may not sleep well at night. The doctor diagnoses food allergy partly by changing the child's diet. Rarely, food challenge is used.

If the baby is on cow's milk, the doctor may suggest a change to soy formula or exclusive breast milk, if possible. If soy formula causes an allergic reaction, the baby may be placed on an elemental formula. These formulas are processed proteins (basically sugars and amino acids). There are few if any allergens within these materials. The doctor will sometimes prescribe corticosteroids to treat infants with severe food allergies. Fortunately, time usually heals this particular gastrointestinal disease. It tends to resolve within the first few years of life.

Exclusive breast feeding (excluding all other foods) of infants for the first 6 to 12 months of life is often suggested to avoid milk or soy allergies from developing within that time frame. Such breast feeding often allows parents to avoid infant-feeding problems, especially if the parents are allergic (and the infant therefore is likely to be allergic). There are some children who are so sensitive to a certain food, however, that if the food is eaten by the mother, sufficient quantities enter the breast milk to cause a food reaction in the child. Mothers sometimes must themselves avoid eating those foods to which the baby is allergic.

There is no conclusive evidence that breast feeding prevents the development of allergies later in life. It does, however, delay the onset of food allergies by delaying the infant's exposure to those foods that can prompt allergies, and it may avoid altogether those feeding problems seen in infants. By delaying the introduction of solid foods until the infant is 6 months old or older, parents can also prolong the child's allergy-free period.

Controversial Issues

There are several disorders thought by some to be caused by food allergies, but the evidence is currently insufficient or contrary to such claims. It is controversial, for example, whether migraine headaches can be caused by food allergies. There are studies showing that people who are prone to migraines can have their headaches brought on by histamines and other substances in foods. The more difficult issue is whether food allergies actually cause migraines in such people. There is virtually no evidence that most rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis can be made worse by foods, despite claims to the contrary. There is also no evidence that food allergies can cause a disorder called the allergic tension fatigue syndrome, in which people are tired, nervous, and may have problems concentrating, or have headaches.

Cerebral allergy is a term that has been applied to people who have trouble concentrating and have headaches as well as other complaints. This is sometimes attributed to mast cells degranulating in the brain but no other place in the body. There is no evidence that such a scenario can happen, and most doctors do not currently recognize cerebral allergy as a disorder.

Another controversial topic is environmental illness. In a seemingly pristine environment, some people have many non-specific complaints such as problems concentrating or depression. Sometimes this is attributed to small amounts of allergens or toxins in the environment. There is no evidence that such problems are due to food allergies.

Some people believe hyperactivity in children is caused by food allergies. But researchers have found that this behavioral disorder in children is only occasionally associated with food additives, and then only when such additives are consumed in large amounts. There is no evidence that a true food allergy can affect a child's activity except for the proviso that if a child itches and sneezes and wheezes a lot, the child may be miserable and therefore more difficult to guide. Also, children who are on anti-allergy medicines that can cause drowsiness may get sleepy in school or at home.

Controversial Diagnostic Techniques

One controversial diagnostic technique is cytotoxicity testing, in which a food allergen is added to a patient's blood sample. A technician then examines the sample under the microscope to see if white cells in the blood "die." Scientists have evaluated this technique in several studies and have not been found it to effectively diagnose food allergy.

Another controversial approach is called sublingual or, if it is injected under the skin, subcutaneous provocative challenge. In this procedure, dilute food allergen is administered under the tongue of the person who may feel that his or her arthritis, for instance, is due to foods. The technician then asks the patient if the food allergen has aggravated the arthritis symptoms. In clinical studies, researchers have not shown that this procedure can effectively diagnose food allergies.

An immune complex assay is sometimes done on patients suspected of having food allergies to see if there are complexes of certain antibodies bound to the food allergen in the bloodstream. It is said that these immune complexes correlate with food allergies. But the formation of such immune complexes is a normal offshoot of food digestion, and everyone, if tested with a sensitive enough measurement, has them. To date, no one has conclusively shown that this test correlates with allergies to foods.

Another test is the IgG subclass assay, which looks specifically for certain kinds of IgG antibody. Again, there is no evidence that this diagnoses food allergy.

Controversial Treatments

Controversial treatments include putting a dilute solution of a particular food under the tongue about a half hour before the patient eats that food. This is an attempt to "neutralize" the subsequent exposure to the food that the patient believes is harmful. As the results of a carefully conducted clinical study show, this procedure is not effective in preventing an allergic reaction.

Summary

Food allergies are caused by immunologic reactions to foods. There actually are several discrete diseases under this category, and a number of foods that can cause these problems.

After one suspects a food allergy, a medical evaluation is the key to proper management. Treatment is basically avoiding the food(s) after it is identified. People with food allergies should become knowledgeable about allergies and how they are treated, and should work with their physicians.

Resources

HOTLINE:
National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver.
Nurses available to answer questions
1/800/222-LUNG
http://www.njc.org/

ALLERGY REFERRALS:
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
611 East Wells Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202
1/800/822-2762.
http://www.aaaai.org/scripts/find-a-doc/main.asp

EXTRACTS FOR ALLERGY TESTING:
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research
1/800/835-4709
http://www.fda.gov/cber/index.html

ECZEMA:
National Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Information Clearinghouse
One AMS Circle
Bethesda, MD 20892-3675
301/495-4484
http://www.nih.gov/niams/

American Academy of Dermatology
930 N. Meacham Rd.
Schaumburg, IL 60173
1/888/462-DERM
http://www.aad.org/

Eczema Association
1221 S.W. Yamhill, Suite 303
Portland, OR 97205
503/228-4430

LACTOSE INTOLERANCE and CELIAC SPRUE:
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
Box NDDIC
Bethesda, MD 20892
301/654-3810
http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health/digest/pubs/lactose/lactose.htm
http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health/digest/pubs/celiac/index.htm

FOOD CONTENTS:
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Food and Nutrition Information Center
301/436-7725
http://www.nalusda.gov/fnic/index.html

RECIPES:
American Dietetic Association
216 W. Jackson Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60606-6995
1/800/877-1600
http://www.eatright.org/

RESOURCES:
Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network
10400 Eaton Place, Suite 107
Fairfax, VA 22030
1/800/929-4040
http://www.foodallergy.org/

American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
85 W. Algonquin Road, Suite 550
Arlington Heights, IL 60005
1/800/842-7777
http://allergy.mcg.edu/

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
1125 15th Street, N.W., Suite 502
Washington, DC 20036
1/800/7-ASTHMA
http://www.aafa.org/ (Source: excerpt from Food Allergy and Intolerances, NIAID Fact Sheet: NIAID)

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