What to Do If a Loved One Is Allergic to Peanuts

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So, you know someone who is allergic to peanuts. All you have to do is keep them away from food products containing the nuts, and all will be well, right? Wrong. A recent study points out some risk factors we all need to be aware of, especially if someone close to us has a peanut allergy.

 The study, published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, looked at the connection between secondary saliva sources of peanut contact, such as through kissing someone who has recently eaten peanut products or through using the same cutlery. To do this, the researchers tested how long traces of the troublesome food remained in the saliva after being eaten.

 Researchers gave 38 study participants two tablespoons of peanut butter each to eat. They collected samples of saliva at different times for testing. In another test, they gave the participants the peanut butter and then collected samples each time after the people brushed, brushed and rinsed, rinsed, brushed after waiting a certain period, and chewed gum after waiting a certain period.

 After one hour, the majority of the subjects, sitting at 87%, no longer had a detectable level of peanut residue in their saliva, even without taking any of the oral hygiene actions. Several hours later, after being fed a lunch without any peanut products, none of the study participants had any peanut left in their saliva.

 This means that if your spouse, partner, or family member has a peanut allergy, you would do best to avoid eating products containing the nut — unless you know you’re not going to see them for at least an hour. If they come into contact with your saliva, through kissing or, say, through sharing a spoon or fork, then you are putting them at risk for a potentially fatal anaphylactic shock reaction. I’d say that it’s worth giving up the inclusion of peanuts and peanut products in your diet altogether just to help protect your loved ones.

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Dr. Victor Marchione, MD

About the Author, Browse Victor's Articles

Victor Marchione, MD received his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1973 and his Medical Degree from the University of Messina in 1981. He has been licensed and practicing medicine in New York and New Jersey for over 20 years. Dr. Marchione is a respected leader in the field of smoking cessation and pulmonary medicine. He has been featured on ABC News and World Report, CBS Evening News and the NBC Today Show and is the editor of the popular The... Read Full Bio »