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What is a Peanut Allergy?

A peanut allergy is a common type of food allergy in both children and adults. A peanut allergy, like any allergy, is 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 histamines, which then cause your peanut 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

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.4 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.    

Only about 20% of people with a peanut allergy outgrow it infographic

Peanut allergy symptoms

Peanuts are the number one cause of death related to food-induced anaphylaxis.5 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 are similar to most allergy symptoms and include:

  • Itchy skin or hives
  • An itching or tingling sensation in the mouth or throat
  • Nausea
  • A runny or congested nose
Anaphylaxis warning icon

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

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.

Personalized peanut allergy symptom assessment icon

Create your personalized
symptom assessment.


Common peanut allergy triggers

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.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.

Peanuts can be found in many foods and drinks, including:



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 vs tree nut allergy statistics infographic


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
Testing icon

Am I allergic?

People who have high levels of peanut antibodies in their blood are most likely to have a peanut allergy for life.13-16 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 outgrow a peanut allergy. Knowing the true cause of your symptoms now may also help you avoid more serious issues in the future.16 For example, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the ER every 3 minutes.17

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. Fleischer D M, et al.  The natural history of tree nut allergy. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2005;116(5), 1087-1093.
  5. 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.
  6. 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)
  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. Kattan JD, Wang J. Allergen Component Testing for Food Allergy: Ready for Prime Time? Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2013;13:58–63.
  13. Hourihane JO, et al. Peanut allergy in relation to heredity, maternal diet, and other atopic diseases: results of a questionnaire, skin prick testing, and challenges. BMJ 1996;313(7056):518-21. http://www.bmj.com/content/313/7056/518.  Accessed August 2017.
  14. Clark A. and Ewan P. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2005;16:507– 11.
  15. Eller E, et al. Cor a 14 is the superior serological marker for hazelnut allergy in children, independent of concomitant peanut allergy. Allergy 2016;71:556-62.
  16. Al-Ahmed N, et al. Peanut Allergy: An Overview. The Canadian Society of Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology. 2008;4,139.
  17. 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.