Peanut allergy occurs when your body identifies peanuts as a harmful substance. When you eat anything that contains peanuts as an ingredient or peanuts themselves, your immune system comes into play. The immune system is the body’s natural defence system that fights off diseases and infections. Upon ingesting peanuts, the immune system overreacts and can even cause a life-threatening response.
Symptoms of Peanut Allergy
Peanut allergy can cause reactions ranging from mild to severe. A mild reaction will cause you to have:
- Runny nose
- Itchy eyes
- Tingling on your tongue or lips
Severe symptoms of a peanut allergy can consist of anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is severe and can include symptoms like problems breathing and swallowing, dizziness, diarrhoea, low blood pressure, vomiting, and even loss of consciousness. These symptoms will start showing a few hours or minutes after consuming peanuts or products containing peanuts as an ingredient.
The New Treatment for Peanut Allergy
There is good news for children and young people with peanut allergies. Thanks to the NHS England (1) securing the first deal in Europe, up to 600 aged 4 to 17 years old should expect to get treatment this year, rising to as many as 2,000 each year after using the Palforzia treatment. This medication is a way for these kids to live a full life without being overly cautious of peanut allergies. Peanut allergy has caused lots of frustration to children and their families as they have to be vigilant that every meal or product doesn’t contain peanuts.
If a child turns 18 when on Palforzia medication, they can still take it unless otherwise instructed by a doctor. But you can’t use this medication to treat an allergic reaction. If you have an allergic reaction, you should immediately see a doctor or take the prescribed medication. Because of the deal struck with the NHS, England will be the first in Europe to benefit from the treatment.
The treatment, known as Palforzia, helps reduce the severity of reactions to peanuts, including anaphylaxis, that strives to provide children with a severe allergy with some tolerance to peanut protein so that you can avert a severe or fatal reaction through accidental exposure.
Peanut is one of the most prevalent causes of food-allergy deaths. In the UK, peanut allergy affects one in 50 children. Until now, kids with peanut allergies were advised to strictly avoid peanuts and manage any allergic reactions with emergency medication. Of course, this will cause pressure on families/patients with the fear that the tiniest mistake could put their lives at risk.
Other allergy trials were UK involved as the ARTEMIS (2) and the PALISADE (3). These trials demonstrated that patients could build up a tolerance to peanuts, decreasing the risk of fatal allergy reactions.
The approval of Palforzia represents a significant step forward towards improving the care for allergy sufferers. This is the first treatment approved to reduce this allergy’s severity and protect against accidental exposure to peanuts.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is working on the final guidance for using Palforzia to treat young people with a peanut allergy to access the treatment. An update is scheduled for January 26 2022 (4).
This is excellent news for peanut allergy sufferers. As we can appreciate, the scientific community is moving in the right direction, helping those affected by allergy to get treatment to reduce the cases of life-threatening reactions.
How Palforzia works to reduce peanut allergy severity
Palforzia is an excellent medication for peanut allergy, but you shouldn’t use it when having an allergic reaction since that’s not how it works. This medication contains peanuts in small amounts that can cause a build-up in peanut allergy resistance when taken over time. It makes your immune system less sensitive to peanuts. For this medication to help you or your kid out, one has to use it regularly.
Despite its help in reducing one’s sensitivity to peanuts, one shouldn’t eat peanuts when using this medication. Doing so might cause a flare-up in peanut allergy and even risk one’s life. The doctor will advise you to avoid peanuts as before since it works slowly, and you’ll eventually stop having a severe peanut allergy reaction which is the end goal.
When using this medication, one is typically required to refrigerate it and add it into meals as a sprinkle or add it into cold foods like applesauce, yoghurt, or pudding. You can add it to foods prepared ahead of time, and once you’re done adding it to your meal, you should wash your hands. When taking the prescription, follow the doctor’s instructions. Palforzia isn’t recommended for people who have uncontrolled asthma and anyone who has ever had eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) or other eosinophilic gastrointestinal diseases.
If you have any recurring allergies and you aren’t sure whether it’s peanut allergy or not, you can get yourself an allergy test online. This test is convenient, and you won’t need to leave your home. You will get it delivered to your doorstep, and you can fill it, take the sample, and send it back to the labs. You will then get your results in one week’s time.
Written by Dr Enzo Fornari, trained as Pharmaceutical Biotechnologist, with PhD qualification in Biophysics and surface analysis. Dr Enzo is employed by Healthy Stuff as a Scientific Researcher: validating our tests, researching new testing methods and ensuring best practice in the lab. You can check out his profile here.
- New treatment to reduce the effects of peanut allergy to benefit thousands of children. NHS. December 23, 2021. (Online) Available: https://www.england.nhs.uk/2021/12/new-treatment-to-reduce-effects-of-peanut-allergy-to-benefit-thousands-of-children/
- ARTEMIS Peanut Allergy in Children. NIH, ClinicalTrials.gov. (Online) Available: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03201003
- Peanut Allergy Oral Immunotherapy Study of AR101 for Desensitization in Children and Adults. NIH, ClinicalTrials.gov. December 21, 2015. (Online) Available: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02635776
- Palforzia for Treating Peanut Allergy. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. January 26, 2022. (Online) Available: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/indevelopment/gid-ta10713