How do I manage my peanut allergy on a daily basis?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Though it may seem obvious, the best way to manage a peanut allergy is to avoid peanuts. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforces laws that require clear labeling of ingredients, particularly ingredients that can cause allergic reactions. Read labels carefully; generally, if the word "nut" is on the list, you shouldn't eat it. There are foods that less obviously contain peanuts or may have come into contact with peanuts, including ethnic cuisine such as African, Chinese and Thai food; chocolate; baked goods; cereal; salad dressing; ice cream; and spaghetti sauce. You must be diligent in reading labels and asking questions at restaurants and bakeries.

No matter how vigilant you are, you should be prepared for accidental peanut exposure. Make sure you're acquainted with the signs and symptoms of a reaction: rash or hives, swelling, trouble breathing and dizziness. Inform friends and family members of your peanut allergy, and carry emergency medications such as antihistamines and an epinephrine injector in case of a serious reaction.

Dr. Diana K. Blythe, MD

Make sure to avoid peanuts in what you eat and foods processed in places that also process peanuts.

In addition, carry your injectable epinephrine with you at all times. Even though you do everything you can, someone else may eat peanuts and touch a door handle. For people with severe peanut allergies, this may be enough contact to cause anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.