Peanut Allergy in a Nutshell: Symptoms and Treatments

Peanut allergy is one of the top 3 most common food allergies in children and adults. The risk of a reaction from eating a peanut product is higher than other foods since its proteins are found in many different food products. Read about the peanut symptoms to look out for, the different kinds of allergy testing, and the treatments that are available to you.

Peanut allergy is well known because of its severity. They are utilized in everyday foods such as peanut butter and are often found in items used in cooking such as peanut oil. The risk of a reaction from eating a peanut product is higher than other foods because it is a common food protein in daily interactions with food products.

Peanut Allergy Symptoms:

Peanut allergy symptoms include:

  • throat itch
  • mouth itch, mouth swelling
  • lip swelling
  • difficulty breathing
  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • wheezing, fainting
  • and possibly death

These are the symptoms of anaphylaxis. Peanut anaphylaxis is similar to other food allergies except the amount of peanut needed to trigger anaphylaxis can be very small. Most studies show it takes less than 1/8 of a peanut to trigger anaphylaxis in peanut allergy sufferers. This amount is smaller than many other common food allergies such as shellfish or eggs.

Peanut Allergy Testing:

The Scratch Test

For many decades, testing for peanut allergy was done with a “scratch” test. This test uses an extract produced by a commercial company containing whole peanuts diluted to a safe level. The liquid extract is scratched into the skin. The reaction which follows measures the severity of the response. The problem with the scratch test is twofold. A negative test is very helpful and generally means you have a 90% or higher chance of not being allergic to peanuts. The problem is the positive test. A positive test is less than 50% accurate. It could mean you have a peanut allergy or not. More importantly, the level of positivity of the test does not indicate how severe your reaction will be.

How We Do Testing at Southern California Food Allergy Institute:

Skin Prick Test And Diagnostic Testing
The Tolerance Induction Program (TIP™) has focused on developing the most advanced, reproducible testing possible in peanut allergy. Every patient who enters TIP™ undergoes a total of 15 specific peanut tests. The tests include validated and reproducible skin prick testing, component resolved diagnostic testing, immunocap assays, and patch testing. TIP testing for peanuts measures multiple angles toward peanuts, including evolutionary biosimilar proteins. All in all, this comprehensive testing allows the TIP data science model to assess the severity of peanut allergy accurately. More importantly, the model is used by artificial intelligence systems to predict how to treat the peanut allergy and put it into remission. Learn more about our AI research here:

Treatment Options
The Tolerance Induction Program treats all patients with peanut anaphylaxis. TIP has treated over 8,700 patients specifically for peanut anaphylaxis with over 99% success. At the end of treatment, patients are in remission where they pass a 75 peanut challenge and can then eat peanuts like a non-allergic person. There are no restrictions on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or Thai food. All patients who reach remission simply have to eat a maintenance amount of peanuts every week. Over time, as our Artificial Intelligence system continues to monitor your case, the frequency of maintenance decreases to every 2 weeks, every 3 weeks, and every month.

Who Qualifies for the Tolerance Induction Program?
The Tolerance Induction Program accepts all cases, including patients with severe asthma, severe eczema, and eosinophilic esophagitis (EOE). Most patients with peanut anaphylaxis are allergic to 2 or more allergens. The most important part of TIP is how comprehensive it is. TIP analyzes the whole patient and the complexity of their case. TIP produces a plan to manage all of these aspects safely, and we treat ALL food allergens in a predictive model. This allows for control and safety as you reach remission. 

Once you reach remission, TIP is here for you every year as your check-in on your new life of food freedom. For food anaphylaxis patients, TIP becomes the medical home that stays with you for years of safety and enjoyment to come.

Where Are Peanuts Hidden?
PS – if you have a peanut allergy, it is important to know where peanuts might be hidden. Here is a shortlist of food products where peanut protein may not be listed as an ingredient.

  • Baked goods (at a farmer’s market)
  • Chili
  • Chocolate (at a farmer’s market)
  • Crumb toppings
  • Egg rolls
  • Enchilada sauce
  • Ethnic foods: African, Asian, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican
  • Fried foods
  • Graham cracker crust
  • Hydrolyzed plant protein
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Marzipan
  • Mole sauce
  • Nougat

Remember to please continue reading the food labels of products and when in doubt, throw it out!