Can You Outgrow a Peanut Allergy?
Allergies to peanuts are one of the most common food allergies among all age groups. For many, peanut allergies cause mild to moderate symptoms which usually appear within minutes of exposure to peanuts. But other people develop severe peanut allergies which can ultimately cause life-threatening complications.
Many people wonder if it’s possible to outgrow peanut allergies, but the answer isn’t so straightforward. Research indicates only about 20% of individuals with peanut allergies truly outgrow them over time, although it may be possible to increase your tolerance to peanuts using new treatments. But don’t try to cure a peanut allergy on your own. Only your doctor can help you determine which treatments may work for you.
After a person reaches 10 years of age, the likelihood of outgrowing peanut allergies drops significantly. However, there is hope for children and adults with peanut allergies. Recent research into new allergy treatments may be key to avoiding symptoms and improving your quality of life.
In Europe, doctors have successfully managed certain environmental allergies with sublingual immunotherapy. It’s thought this treatment could also be effective for people living with food allergies. Sublingual immunotherapy works by increasing your tolerance to an allergen, such as peanut proteins, over time. During treatment, small amounts of the allergen, in liquid form, are placed directly under the tongue. In one study, sublingual immunotherapy improved tolerance to peanut proteins 10 times over for 14 out of 20 people.
Other research focuses on epicutaneous immunotherapy, which is delivered via a wearable patch on your skin. The patch transfers small amounts of peanut protein through your skin. While research into this therapy is ongoing, early results have been promising.
So, while it’s unlikely you’ll outgrow a peanut allergy after turning 10 years old, new therapies are on the horizon that may help people with peanut allergies lessen their reaction over time.
Managing a peanut allergy requires strict attention to the foods you consume. Peanuts, and other products made from or with peanuts, are found in many common foods, including candies, baked goods, and sauces. If you’re dining out, it’s important to alert the restaurant staff to your allergy. While some foods, like Mexican food, may not commonly feature peanuts directly in dishes, there is a possibility for cross-contact with peanuts or peanut products in the kitchen.
It’s also important to carry any medications you may need to manage side effects of a peanut allergy. This is especially important if you have a severe peanut allergy, since severe symptoms may be life-threatening. In many cases, doctors prescribe epinephrine autoinjectors (EpiPen, Auvi-Q) for people who are more likely to experience anaphylaxis. If your doctor recommends an autoinjector, be sure to carry it with you at all times and educate yourself and those around you on how to use it properly.
While only a small percentage of people outgrow peanut allergies, new research offers hope for better symptom management and may even help increase your tolerance to peanuts. It’s important to work together with your doctor to see whether any new treatments could help you better manage your condition. Be sure to let your doctor know about any allergic reaction symptoms you experience, and seek out emergency medical treatment immediately if you experience any severe symptoms.