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Peanut allergy may be fatal: Be aware of the risks

Peanut butter is also high in calories, saturated fats, and sodium. So, it is recommended to take it in moderation to gain its benefits. © Shutterstock

Peanut allergy can lead to life-threatening conditions and there is no cure for it. Read on to know more.

Written by Editorial Team |Published : October 6, 2019 5:28 PM IST

Peanut allergy is a common form of allergy that can have life-threatening implications. It needs immediate treatment, or it can even be fatal. Even a tiny bite is enough to send a person into a severe allergic reaction.

According to a study at the University of British Columbia, a new gene may be responsible for this condition. Researchers say that this is further evidence that genes play a role in the development of food allergies and opening the door to future research, improved diagnostics and new treatment options. They say that the gene, called c11orf30/EMSY (EMSY), is already known to play a role in other allergy-related conditions, such as eczema, asthma, and allergic rhinitis. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology published this study.

Peanut allergy is rarely outgrown: Experts

According to researchers, food allergy is the result of both genetic and environmental factors. But there are surprisingly few data regarding the genetic basis of this condition, they said and added that this discovery of genetic link gives a fuller picture of the causes of food allergies, and this could eventually help doctors identify children at risk. According to them, peanut allergy develops in early life and is rarely outgrown. Symptoms can be severe and even life threatening.

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Researchers reviewed the DNA of 850 individuals with a peanut allergy recruited from the Canadian Peanut Allergy Registry (CanPAR) and nearly 1,000 individuals without a peanut allergy. They scanned more than 7.5 million genetic markers across the DNA through a genome-wide association study (GWAS). They looked for clues as to which genes might be responsible for the risk of developing food allergies. Researchers also looked at six other genetic studies from American, Australian, German and Dutch populations.

They saw that EMSY lead to an increase in the risk of both peanut allergy and food allergy. They also suspected the involvement of five other gene locations.

Symptoms of peanut allergy

Just a small bite of a peanut can lead to an allergic reaction. You may experience a runny nose, hives, irritation and itchiness in the mouth and throat, and also diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, nausea or vomiting. In severe cases, you may experience a tightening of the throat muscles that make it difficult to swallow and shortness of breath or wheezing. It may also become difficult for you to breath. A weak pulse, confusion and dizziness are seen in very rare cases. At times, your skin may also get a bluish tinge or look very pale. Moreover, it can cause a constriction of the airways and lead to a sudden drop in blood pressure.

It is essential to get medical help immediately because any delay may lead to death.

Treatment for peanut allergy

There is no treatment option for peanut allergy and a doctor treats the symptoms. The safest thing to do is to avoid peanuts completely. But a study at the University of North Carolina Health Care says that people allergic to peanuts may have a new way to protect themselves from severe allergic reactions to accidental peanut exposure. Researchers call this sublingual immunotherapy, or SLIT, and it involves putting a miniscule amount of liquefied peanut protein under the tongue, where it is absorbed immediately into the blood stream to desensitise the immune system to larger amounts of peanut protein. This study was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

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