When someone with a peanut allergy eats peanuts, his or her T-cells stimulate excessive production of immunoglobulin. And immunoglobulin, in turn, stimulates the production of symptom-causing chemicals, primarily histamines which cause swelling. An allergic reaction ensues.
The reaction has a wide variance in severity, but peanut allergy reactions tend toward the severe.
Peanut Allergy Symptoms from a Peanut Allergy Reaction
A peanut allergy reaction causes various degrees of inflammation, itching and indigestion. Inflammation, or swelling, is the greatest concern as it can lead to blockage of the air passages and circulatory collapse, i.e. anaphylaxis. A peanut allergy reaction can be immediate (within seconds) or delayed for several hours. Susceptible individuals can be affected by only a few milligrams of peanut protein. Approximately 75% of peanut-allergic children will experience a reaction the first time that they eat peanuts.
Signs and symptoms of a peanut allergy reaction may include:
- Skin reactions such as urticaria (hives), redness or edema (swelling)
- Itching or tingling in or around the mouth and throat
- Digestive problems such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting
- Tightening of the chest
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Anaphylaxis, a whole-body allergic reaction that can result in suffocation and a sudden drop in blood pressure