Food Allergies – Why Are Peanuts So Dangerous?
Since peanut allergies are particularly dangerous, a lot of research has been carried out on the subject in recent years.
Some people's allergic reaction to peanuts can be extremely severe, and the problem is only compounded by the number of foods which may contain peanuts; often in products you would not need to expect to find them. Even supposedly peanut-free foodstuffs may have been contaminated in a factory which also produces products containing peanuts. Peanuts are the number one cause of food allergy induced fatalities, and it only takes a very small amount to cause a reaction in susceptible people. What's more, the allergen does not even have to be ingested – airborne particles, for example from peanut oil or flour can also cause the reaction.
For those who suffer badly from this particular allergy, the biggest danger is anaphylactic shock. This occurs when histamines are released into the bloodstream, causing the throat to swell, with incompatibility difficulties in breathing, and circulatory problems such as dangerously low blood pressure; it can be fatal.
The allergic reaction occurs when a person's immune system identifies certain proteins contained in peanuts as a potential threat and produces antibodies to counter the perceived danger to the body. From then on, further contact with peanuts will result in the antibodies instructing the immune system to release histamine into the blood, which causes the allergic reaction.
Unfortunately, there is currently no way to cure or alleviate a peanut allergy, and scientists are not sure why some people have the problem and not others. However, it has been shown that you are more likely to suffer from peanut allergy if other members of your family do as well. Although around 20% of children who have the allergy will ever outgrow it, this should not be seen as a 'cure', as the person can relapse at some point in the future. It is therefore advisable to continue avoiding peanuts, even if you think your allergy is cured.