"At the Clinica we carry out treatment with vaccines (immunotherapy) to make the body stop considering the substance causing the allergic reaction to be harmful".
DR. MARÍA JOSÉ GOIKOETXEA LAPRESA
SPECIALIST. ALLERGY AND IMMUNOLOGY DEPARTMENT
How do I know if I have a peanut allergy?
Peanut allergy is one of the most frequent food allergies today. It affects about 200,000 people in Spain and greatly affects the quality of life as many foods contain traces of nuts in their composition.
There are different types of treatments (oral, sublingual or by means of patches on the skin), based on the gradually increasing administration of peanut proteins that seek to desensitize the immune system and help it to tolerate this food.
In the Department of Allergology of the Clinica we have extensive experience in the treatment of induction to oral tolerance and each patient is assessed individually. During the whole process is supervised by our team of allergists and nurses specialized in the control of this treatment.
In addition, the Clinic's Department of Allergology participates in clinical trials with immunotherapy, a treatment aimed at modifying the immune system so that it does not recognize the peanut substance as foreign.
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What are the symptoms of peanut allergy?
The symptoms of peanut allergy can be very varied, ranging from mild discomfort after ingestion to severe allergic reactions.
The clinical picture may occur after the first contact or it may appear gradually and increase after repeated consumption of foods containing milk or traces of milk.
The symptoms begin with itching in the mouth and pharyngeal area, skin rashes with intense itching (hives) and in the most severe cases, angioedema. Respiratory symptoms such as rhinitis, conjunctivitis and asthma attacks are also frequent.
The most common symptoms are:
- Itchy mouth and palate
- Hives and beans by the skin
- Rhinitis and/or conjunctivitis
- Breathing difficulty
- Asthma crisis
- Vomiting, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may occur later.
In the most severe cases, anaphylactic shock can develop, compromising the patient's life.
Do you have any of these symptoms?
You may have a peanut allergy and food desensitization treatment may be possible
What are the causes of peanut allergy?
Peanuts are one of the most common allergens causing significant allergic reactions in children and adults. Most peanut reactions are IgE-induced against the major peanut allergens Ara h 1, Ara h 2 and Ara h 3.
Food allergies can develop at any age, but children are much more likely to have a food allergy than adults. Although other food allergies can be outgrown with age, peanut allergy is less likely to resolve over time.
About 30% of people with peanut allergy are also allergic to other nuts.
Some risk factors for peanut allergy are:
- Age. Food allergies are more common in children, especially children one to two years old and infants.
- Previous peanut allergy. Although some children may outgrow this allergy, they are more likely to develop it again in later life.
- Family history. If there are people in the family with peanut allergy or other family allergies.
- Atopic dermatitis or other allergies. Some people who have the skin disease atopic dermatitis or other types of allergies (allergic rhinitis, for example) may be at higher risk.
How is peanut allergy diagnosed?
The diagnosis is made by means of a very simple skin test (prick test): drops containing a known amount of the allergen causing the milk allergy are applied to the skin of the arm. The basis of this technique is to reproduce in the skin the reaction that we present in other parts of the body.
In addition, it is possible to perform blood tests, so that in a more precise way we can quantify and demonstrate the presence of specific Ig E against these proteins.
Sometimes, it is necessary to carry out a provocation test, which consists of observing under medical control the reaction that takes place after the ingestion of the food.
In addition to the usual skin tests, we can measure IgE by microarray, which gives us valuable information about the allergens that the patient recognizes.
How is peanut allergy treated?
We have great experience in desensitizing to different foods.
The first and most effective measure is to avoid contact with the allergen.
Peanuts and tree nuts are found in many foods. Not only in an obvious way, but there are products that may contain "traces" of nuts. This can occur due to a process known as "cross-contamination". It occurs when nuts enter the food product because it is manufactured or served in a place that also uses nuts in other foods.
Peanut desensitization treatment is simple and is based primarily on re-educating cells that react to foods that should be safe. This re-education involves administering very small amounts of peanut, initially very small, which are gradually increased - these increases are always carried out in the hospital - so that the body assimilates these substances without reacting against them.
This treatment requires close monitoring of this process by the healthcare staff at all times to avoid major allergic reactions.
This is complemented by patient and family education to teach them to avoid contact with this food and to learn how to act in the event of a severe allergic reaction.
What clinical trials do we have on peanut allergy?
Vaccines for peanut allergy
Clinical trial to assess the efficacy and tolerability of a vaccine composed of nanoparticles containing peanuts, taken orally, and intended to modify the patient's tolerance to peanuts.
This research has its origins in the research of the molecule in the laboratory, its experimentation in animal models and finally its testing in patients through a clinical trial. A translational research from the laboratory to the patient.
Where do we treat it?
IN NAVARRE AND MADRID
Department of Allergology
of the Clínica Universidad de Navarra
The Department of Allergy and Immunology of the Clinic is part of the Global Allergy and Asthma European Network, composed of the 25 best departments of Allergy in Europe, chosen for their scientific excellence, multidisciplinary work, teaching and international activities.
We have the most advanced diagnostic techniques, we are at the forefront of research and we collaborate with the best experts. We have more than 50 years of experience in the field.
What diseases do we treat?
Why at the Clinica?
- More than 50 years of experience.
- Pioneers in the technique of molecular diagnosis by microarray.
- Nursing specialized in allergic diseases and their care.