CaseAssignment: Peanut Allergy
Allergyis a name that has been common in everyday life. Some allergies aremild and clear away without much struggle while others requirespecial concern. One such allergy problem is the peanut allergy. Inthe past decade, peanut allergy has become a major health concern inAmerica, Canada and other European countries. Peanut allergy hasincreased over the last years, with U.S experiencing a tripleincrease in the number of children with peanut allergy in the periodbetween 1997 and 2008 (Sicherer,Muñoz-Furlong, Godbold & Sampson, 2010).It is one of the most common types of food allergies especially inchildren. It is estimated that, 8 percent of children below threeyears in the U.S has peanut allergy and about 6-8 percent of schoolgoing children have this allergy (Young,n.d).People with peanut allergy may have serious and potentially lethalallergic reaction or anaphylaxis. Most people do not know thatsomething like a food allergy can be that serious. The truth isthat, most food allergies can be managed easily but with peanutallergy, it can have serious health consequences. This is made worseby the fact that, peanut allergies are usually life-long with only 20percent of people with the problem outgrowing it (Young,n.d).As such, individuals with peanut allergy may need to have easy accessto an epinephrine auto-injector at all times to avoid seriousreactions. This essay looks at what entail peanut allergy, its causesand the possible solution for this pandemic.
Peanutallergy is a common type of food allergy that is triggered traces ofpeanuts in food or when a person comes into contact with peanut,especially in the eyes, nose or mouth. For example, if a child withpeanut allergy touches margarine with her hands and then rubs hereyes, an allergic reaction will be experienced. In some individuals,even mild amounts of peanut can result to serious reaction known asanaphylaxis (Nicolaouet al., 2010).Peanuts are major causes of severe allergy attacks across the world.
Peanutallergy happens when the body immune system erroneously identifiespeanut proteins as a foreign material that is harmful to the body.The immune system releases chemicals into the blood in an attempt tofight the “harmful foreign material”. One can be exposed topeanuts through eating, inhalation or cross contact, where foodbecomes contaminated with peanut unintentionally (Nicolaouet al., 2010).Whichever way, it depends on the individual’s reaction to suchexposure.
Althoughit is not known why some individuals develop allergies to some foodswhile others do not, the risk for having peanut allergy increaseswith certain factors. For instance, children are at high risk ofdeveloping food allergies than mature people, which explains why thenumber of children with food allergies including peanut allergy ishigh. In addition, a person with other food allergies say hay feveris at high risk of having peanut allergy or allergy to other foods.Family history of food allergies increases risk of a person havingpeanut allergy. In individuals with serious skin conditions likeeczema, the risk for peanut allergy or other food allergies is high(Sichereret al., 2010).
Aswith other food allergies, treating peanut allergy is not achievable.Avoiding peanuts to avoid allergies is the first step to preventingfrom peanut allergy. In addition, one must be able to manage orrelieve mild symptoms and how to identify and deal with seriousreactions. However, studies have shown possibility of treating peanutallergy through desensitization process which involves increasinglyintroducing doses of peanut flour or extracts over time (Nicolaouet al., 2010).Although it has not been officially confirmed, scholars have founddesensitization as a promising way in treating peanut allergy.
Thehighest number of children are school going, which raises concernabout peanut allergy. An estimated 6-8 percent of school goingchildren are allergic to peanuts. With children being at an increasedrisk of peanut allergy, it becomes very difficult to protect childrenfrom having peanut allergy reactions. Children interact quite oftenand may not know how to take care of themselves. Parents are oftenworried about the safety of their children in school, and a child whois allergic to peanut may cause worry to his or her parents when inthe school environment. A variety of foods contain peanut and otherrelated ingredients that can cause peanut allergies and should thusbe avoided (Nicolaouet al., 2010).Parents of children with peanut allergy should read labels carefullyof the foods they buy to ensure that their children are safe.Knowledge of these foods can greatly help in preventing seriouspeanut allergic attacks.
Sinceschools do not have the right to ban peanuts in school as somestudents or food ingredients may contain cross contact with peanuts,a policy should be put in place to help the school in dealing withpeanut allergic reaction. Schools can adopt simple guidelines asprovided by a Food Anaphylaxis Task Force established forMassachusetts after the death of a child from anaphylaxis (Young,n.d).The guideline provides that, the school must identify students withfood allergies, have a written action plan for cases of emergency inmanaging anaphylactic reactions and having a documented personalhealthcare plan in place for preventing and management for a child inall school situations including in class, cafeteria, in the field orin a school bus (Young,n.d).This plan should be provided by a physician dealing with a particularchild’s case as it includes specific symptoms to watch out for, howto treat the reaction and contact information. The school nurse isbestowed with the responsibility of administering this action plan inan emergency (Young,n.d).
Conclusively,peanut allergy is a major food allergy problem among children in theUnited States. It is caused when a person allergic to peanut comesinto contact with peanut. The risk for peanut allergy increases inyoung children, people with a family history of food allergies, andin people with dermis conditions. It is not treatable althoughdesensitization process can help in treating the problem. Schools mayadopt a policy to enable deal with allergy attacks as established bythe Food Anaphylaxis Task Force in Massachusetts, following the deathof a student from anaphylaxis. Stakeholders in education must cometogether and formulate a workable plan to prevent anaphylaxis orserious cases of allergy attacks. Most importantly, parents shouldunderstand their children with peanut allergy and teach them how tobe safe at all times.
Nicolaou,N., Poorafshar, M., Murray, C., Simpson, A., Winell, H., Kerry, G.,… & Custovic, A. (2010). Allergy or tolerance in childrensensitized to peanut: prevalence and differentiation usingcomponent-resolved diagnostics. Journalof Allergy and Clinical Immunology,125(1),191-197.
Sicherer,S. H., Muñoz-Furlong, A., Godbold, J. H., & Sampson, H. A.(2010). US prevalence of self-reported peanut, tree nut, and sesameallergy: 11-year follow-up. Journalof Allergy and Clinical Immunology,125(6),1322-1326.
Young,M.C. (n.d). SchoolPeanut Allergy Safety.Retrieved http://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/health/allergies/school-peanut-allergy-safety/(Accessed December 8, 2014)