pediatric housecalls Robert R. Jarrett M.D. M.B.A. FAAP

Peanut Allergy – Possible Treatment

Peanut allergy is, for some unknown reason, rising in numbers every year. Perhaps we were merely na├»ve when I was a child, but we certainly didn’t have any “special table” in our lunch room as a “peanut free zone.” I never once, in my entire school years, had a teacher or classroom even mention that there even was such a thing as kids who couldn’t be around peanuts let alone prohibit them from entering… not any more! They’re everywhere and every school has them.

We can treat the results of a “peanut allergy attack” but not prevent the issue. How could we? We don’t have a clue what is making such a health crisis now that didn’t occur 20-30 years ago.

There is no immunotherapy or pills to prevent it. Bee stings we know about. They cause anaphylaxis crises too. We’ve found that deliberately injecting miniscule amounts of bee sting venom into an allergic person (under controlled conditions of course) and then slowly increasing the strength of the injection can eventually help the person “get over” the sting allergy – or at least make it less severe.

Well, apparently they’ve been experimenting with a similar thing for peanuts. A skin patch – like a nicotine patch to stop smoking – with tiny amounts of peanut allergen is worn on the arm or somewhere. And, eventually, over time (perhaps a year or so) the persons reactions diminish to some extent.

Like the doc said in the video: “the patient is probably not going to be able to eat a peanut butter sandwich” but just making the reaction less extreme will give a very welcome buffer to what is a literally a life threatening event.

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