Peanut allergy is common and affects around 3% of children. In some cases even trace amounts of peanuts can trigger symptoms.
Someone who is allergic to peanut is not always allergic to tree nuts. This is because the proteins in peanut are very different to those in tree nuts, such as almonds, cashews, hazelnut, macadamia, pecans, pistachios and walnuts.
Allergic reactions to peanut (or other foods), range from mild to severe. Mild to moderate symptoms of food allergy include swelling of face, lips and/or eyes, hives or welts on the skin, stomach (abdominal) pain and vomiting.
Peanuts are one of the most common foods that cause life threatening severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis). Symptoms of anaphylaxis to peanut (or other foods), include any of the following; difficult/noisy breathing, swelling of the tongue, swelling/tightness in the throat, difficulty talking/hoarse voice, wheeze or persistent cough, persistent dizziness and/or collapse. Young children may become pale and floppy.
Food labelling laws in Australia and New Zealand require that any product containing peanut must be clearly labelled. It is important to check the labels of all foods before purchase.
When eating out with peanut allergy some simple precautions include; contacting the restaurant, café or home cook in advance to let them know of the food allergy, telling restaurant staff about the peanut allergy on arrival, and asking about peanut in the food that is ordered, rather than relying on menu descriptions as dips or sauces may have peanuts in them.
If an adrenaline (epinephrine) autoinjector has been prescribed the person with allergy should have it with them at all times.
Under the supervision of a clinical immunology/allergy specialist and supportive contacts, people with allergy to peanuts can learn to manage their allergies. Having adrenaline autoinjectors offers reassurance, but it is not a substitute for strategies to minimise the risk of exposure to allergen triggers.
Other Fast Facts: www.allergy.org.au/patients/fast-facts
© ASCIA 2019
ASCIA is the peak professional body of clinical immunology/allergy specialists in Australia and New Zealand
Postal address: PO Box 450 Balgowlah NSW 2093 Australia
This document has been developed and peer reviewed by ASCIA members and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner. Development of this document is not funded by any commercial sources and is not influenced by commercial organisations.
Content updated October 2019