The most frightening thing about a severe allergic reaction to a new food is that it can happen so fast. If parents are not looking for allergic reactions, they can be shocked and overwhelmed, not knowing what to do. Some foods like peanuts can actually cause life-threatening allergic reactions. Knowing what peanut allergy symptoms are before feeding a young child a peanut butter cookie or sandwich is a real necessity.
The most severe allergic reactions are regarded as a medical emergency
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction to peanuts or other foods. Although your child probably will not have a life-threatening reaction, it is possible that this could happen. Doctors do not know the exact reason why peanut allergies are increasing in children, but more children are developing them than ever. As many as 2% of children with peanut allergies will experience anaphylaxis (Source: Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology Journal).
Anaphylaxis develops quickly, usually within minutes to hours
Parents whose children have experienced an episode of anaphylaxis say that they never want to go through that again. One minute their child was eating peacefully, and within minutes her face began to swell, she coughed, gagged, and had difficulty breathing. The first signs of anaphylaxis are usually itching and flushing of the skin or a rash that develops suddenly. If a reaction to eating peanuts is this serious, the parent needs to call 911 immediately. There is only one way to stop the allergy symptoms, and that is if another family member has a prescription of epinephrine that can be used. This auto-injector is sold in two dosages and should only be used by the person for whom it was prescribed.
Any time that a child has a serious reaction to peanuts, tree nuts, or other foods, she needs emergency care
If your child happens to have a serious reaction to peanuts such as trouble breathing, wheezing, increased pulse rate, sudden gastrointestinal problems, hives, or any rapid onset allergic reaction, follow up treatment in an emergency room is recommended. According to The Journal of Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology, epinephrine should be given to the child and her blood pressure and heart rate should be continually monitored. Fortunately, most children make it through an episode of anaphylaxis, but some do not. Parents need to be prepared to watch their child eating foods that commonly cause allergic reactions and to respond quickly by calling for emergency help.