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What is a Peanut Allergy?

A peanut allergy is a common type of food allergy in both children and adults. It happens when your immune system identifies the proteins in peanuts as harmful. When you come into contact with these proteins, your immune system reacts and releases histamine and other substances, which then trigger your allergic reaction.

Peanut allergic reactions are generally the most common culprit of fatal food–induced anaphylaxis, with the highest-risk groups being adolescents with asthma.1,2  In fact, studies show that people allergic to peanuts have a higher risk of anaphylaxis compared with people who are allergic to other foods, like milk or egg.3  


Peanut allergy symptoms

Peanuts are the number one cause of death related to food-induced anaphylaxis.4 Symptoms of anaphylaxis include impaired breathing, swelling in the throat, a sudden drop in blood pressure, pale skin or blue lips, dizziness and fainting. Less severe symptoms of a peanut allergy include:

  • Itchy skin or hives
  • An itching or tingling sensation in the mouth or throat
  • Nausea
  • A runny or congested nose
  • Mild cough
  • Swelling of the face
  • Digestive issues


Anaphylaxis, also called anaphylactic shock, is an acute, life-threatening allergic reaction. The reaction affects different organs in the body, one or several at a time. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention and a trip to the emergency department. Because it can get so serious so quick, effective treatment is incredibly important. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • A sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Abdominal pain
  • Hives
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling around the eyes and the mouth
  • Tingling and itching around the mouth
  • Weak and rapid pulse
Anaphylaxis warning

Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention.
Although incredibly serious; anaphylaxis is thankfully very rare.

Call your local emergency number if you, or someone you know, is having an allergic reaction with signs of anaphylaxis.

Peanut Allergy Testing

Peanut Allergy Testing

Ask Questions. Get Answers.

"Do I have a peanut allergy?" isn't a simple "yes" or "no" question. Peanut allergy reactions can vary from localized reactions, such as itching and tingling of the mouth and lips, to systemic reactions, including anaphylaxis, to potentially no clinical reaction at all.12 These reactions depend on which peanut protein is behind the reaction.

Peanuts comprise different proteins; a person with a peanut allergy could be reacting to one or more of these proteins. Knowing which protein is causing the reaction is important because different proteins can cause different allergic reactions.

Specific IgE blood testing for peanut components helps your healthcare provider identify the specific proteins that may cause your reactions. So instead of knowing that you're allergic to peanuts in general, you can know exactly which protein may trigger the reaction. Testing with allergen components can also help your healthcare provider determine whether an oral food challenge (OFC) test is recommended. An OFC test can be used to help confirm your peanut allergy or determine whether you have outgrown it.

Meaning, you can get detailed answers to your peanut allergy questions. Because it’s not just knowledge you’ll gain, but peace of mind, too.

Create your personalized
symptom assessment.


peanut allergy foods to avoid

If you have a confirmed peanut allergy diagnosis, you should avoid peanut in all forms including anything containing traces of peanut in it. Obvious sources include roasted, dry roasted, salted or plain peanuts and peanut butter. But peanuts can be a hidden ingredient in many foods—this is why it’s important to read the label or ask before buying or eating foods. Ingredients in packaged foods can change at any time—and without warning. 

More than 10 percent of patients with peanut or tree nut allergy report experiencing reactions in restaurants or other food establishments.13 Because of their common use of peanuts, Asian restaurants, ice cream parlors and bakeries are considered high-risk for people with a peanut allergy. Even if you order a peanut-free item, there is the possibility of cross-contamination.


Peanut Allergy Risk Factors

No one knows for sure why some people develop allergies and other people don’t. However, research leads us to believe people with certain risk factors are more likely to develop a peanut allergy. These risk factors include:

  • Family history of allergies. You may be at an increased risk of peanut allergy if allergies, especially food allergies, are common or present in your family.
  • Other and/or previous allergies. If you already have an allergy diagnosis to one food, you may be at an increased risk of developing an allergy to another. In addition, if you have outgrown a peanut allergy, there is still a risk that it returns.
  • Age. Toddlers and infants are more likely to develop food allergies. As you get older, your body may be less likely to react to food allergens such as peanuts.
  • Atopic dermatitis or eczema. Allergic eczema is often the first step to developing allergies and it is common for food allergies to develop after experiencing eczema.5

Can you develop a peanut allergy?

The short answer is yes, it is possible to develop a peanut allergy. Allergies can grow and change as we grow and change. While most food allergies start in childhood, they can also develop at any age and through adulthood—otherwise known as adult-onset allergies. New studies show that 15 percent of patients with an initial food diagnosis were adult-onset allergies.6

Can you outgrow a peanut allergy?

An allergy to peanuts usually lasts a lifetime—only about 20 percent of people with this allergy outgrow it.12 Some people, who eventually outgrow their peanut allergy, had previously had severe reactions to peanuts. So the severity of your reaction doesn't mean you won't outgrow the allergy.  



Even though peanuts have the word “nuts” in their name, they are legumes, not nuts. Allergy to more than one nut is common. 1 out of 2 nut allergic teenagers react to more than one nut. 1 out of 3 peanut allergic patients also report tree nut allergy. And more than half of tree nut allergic patients report an allergy to peanuts.7-11

People with a peanut allergy also commonly avoid tree nuts because of the likelihood of cross-contact or cross-contamination—when one food comes into contact with another food and their proteins mix—during the manufacturing process.8-11

peanut allergy stat


In addition to being allergic to more than one nut, some patients test positive to peanut because they are allergic to something with a similar protein, such as birch pollen. This is called cross-reactivity. So while you or a loved one may have tested postive for peanut, it could be that the symptoms are triggered by a completely different substance that happens to contain similar proteins.

The only way to know for sure is to get a specific IgE blood test. Together with a medical history, your healthcare provider can determine the allergens that are triggering your symptoms.

MSP Anchor

My Symptom Profile

Make the most of your appointment
Talk to your healthcare provider about specific IgE blood testing.

Use these questions to help your healthcare provider understand what’s going on with your symptoms. Review your answers together during your office visit to decide if specific IgE blood testing is right for you.

Help your healthcare provider understand what’s been going on with your symptoms and decide if specific IgE blood testing is right for you!

Start Questionnaire

Here Is Your Recap. Now What?

What can your My Symptom Profile tell you about allergies? Nothing, by itself. So resist the temptation to self-diagnose. Treating allergy symptoms with over-the-counter medications or other remedies without determining the cause could lead to more issues in the long run. When paired with testing, such as specific IgE blood testing for food or respiratory allergies, your My Symptom Profile can guide your healthcare provider in creating a customized trigger-management plan to help reduce exposure to suspected allergens.

What symptoms are you experiencing or have you experienced?

Do your symptoms get worse during a particular time?

Do you notice your symptoms more in certain places?

How long have your symptoms been present?


Select all that apply
Runny nose
Itchy eyes
Chest tightness
Abdominal cramps
Itchy mouth
Difficulty breathing
Red, itchy patches of skin
Scratchy throat
Select all that apply
In the morning
At nighttime
In the fall
In the spring/summer
In winter or when temperatures drop
After eating certain foods
When sick
During or after exercise
Select all that apply
At home
At school/work
Around pets or animals
Select one
Since birth
Less than 1 week
More than 6 weeks
For several years

Download a PDF of your results to help guide your conversation and maximize your time with your healthcare provider.

Download Results
Am I Allergic?

peanut allergy test: Am I allergic?

You may be so used to avoiding peanuts that you haven’t considered asking if you still need to. However, severity of peanut allergies can vary; and the level of peanut specific IgE in someone's blood can help determine the possibility of outgrowing the allergy.14 A simple blood test that measures these antibodies and can help your healthcare professional determine whether or not you or your child are likely to grow out of a peanut allergy. Knowing the true cause of your symptoms now may also help you avoid more serious issues in the future.14 For example, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the ER every 3 minutes.15

Knowing if you’re allergic and what you’re allergic to can help can help you get relief. Be sure to consult with your healthcare professional.

  1. Sampson HA, Mendelson LM, Rosen JP. Fatal and near-fatal anaphylactic reactions to food in children and adolescents. N Engl J Med. 1992;327:380 –384. (III)
  2. Bock SA, Munoz-Furlong A, Sampson HA. Fatalities due to anaphylactic reactions to foods. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001; 107:191–193. (III)
  3. Scurlock AM, Burks AW. Peanut allergenicity. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2004; 93(Suppl 3): 12–18.
  4. Du Toit G, et al. Randomized Trial of Peanut Consumption in Infants at Risk for Peanut Allergy. The New England Journal of Medicine 2015, 1-11.
  5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/peanut-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20376175. Accessed July 2019.
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4578642/. Accessed July 2019. 
  7. Sicherer SH, Burks AW, Sampson HA. Clinical features of acute allergic reactions to peanut and tree nuts in children. Pediatrics 1998;102(1):e6 

  8. Ewan PW. Clinical study of peanut and nut allergy in 62 consecutive patients: new features and associations. BMJ 1996;312(7038):1074-8
  9. Masthoff L, et al. Peanut allergy is common among hazelnut-sensitized subjects but is not primarily the result of IgE cross-reactivity. Allergy 2015; 70: 265–274.
  10. Maloney J, et al. The use of serum-specific IgE measurements for the diagnosis of peanut, tree nut, and seed allergy. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008;122:145-51.
  11. Ibid see also Sicherer SH, Munoz-Furlong A, Sampson HA. Prevalence of peanut and tree nut allergy in the United States determined by means of a random digit dial telephone survey: a 5-year follow-up study. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2003; 112(6):1203-7.
  12. Fleischer D M, et al.  The natural history of tree nut allergy. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2005;116(5), 1087-1093.
  13. Sicherer SH, Furlong TJ, Munoz-Furlong A, et al. A voluntary registry for peanut and tree nut allergy: characteristics of the first 5149 registrants. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2001;108: 128 –132. (III)
  14. Al-Ahmed N, et al. Peanut Allergy: An Overview. The Canadian Society of Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology. 2008;4,139.
  15. Clark S, et al. Frequency of US emergency department visits for food-related acute allergic reactions. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011; 127(3):682-683.