By Lindsey Hickman
After the tragic passing of 13-year old Natalie Giorgi from Carmichael, discussion of peanut product awareness has become a priority topic.
Anaphylactic reaction: Discovery Health explains, Peanut allergies are the body's overreaction to certain proteins found in peanuts. The immune system's response to these allergens is to trigger an antibody, which then triggers other chemicals. One of the scariest results of these chemicals is the chance for anaphylaxis, which is a potentially fatal condition in which sufferers have trouble breathing because of constricted airways, experience a sudden and drastic drop in blood pressure, have an increased pulse rate, and sometimes even pass out.
Reaction statistics: Peanut allergies affect 1.3% of Americans. Discovery Health states that in the US, thousands of people visit the emergency room annually because of allergic reactions to food. Approximately 200 people die in the U.S. each year because of food allergies. It's estimated that around 50 percent to 62 percent of those fatal cases of anaphylaxis were caused by peanut allergies. There have been reported cases of mild to severe reactions from simply kissing someone who had eaten peanuts or peanut butter, eating at a table where someone prior to you had a peanut butter sandwich, or even simply shaking a person’s hand.
Inhalation reactions are real, but rare: According to UCLA, there are some people with such severe allergies to peanuts that even minute amounts of peanut can trigger reactions. These people may be at risk from inhaled exposure to peanut. In general, people that experience reactions from inhaled exposures have primarily skin reactions. Systemic or severe reactions are extremely rare and atypical.
More than just peanut butter: When you're grabbing potluck items, you might not realize there are peanut products in many foods. According to allergy experts, foods at risk for hidden peanut products include: baking mixes, candy, cereals, chili, Chinese food, chocolate, cookies, egg rolls, hydrolyzed plant protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, Indonesian food, marzipan, Mexican food, nougat, pastries, pesto, praline, Thai food, Vietnamese food.
Have you had a food allergy scare? Tell us about it in comments.