As a nurse, you will encounter patients suffering from various health conditions. Understanding the health risks and possible treatments for these issues prepares you to deliver better care. in addition to helping you identify viable treatments, learning about various conditions helps you to better educate your patients. In turn, you can greatly improve patient outcomes. Today’s Fast CE For Less guide will discuss allergies – more specifically, peanut allergies.
What Exactly is an Allergy?
Allergic reactions occur when a person’s immune system overreacts after exposure to a typically harmless substance. The substance the immune system reacts to is called an allergen.
The immune system is responsible for protecting the body from harmful substances. However, the immune system can create antibodies called Immunoglobulin E when certain allergens enter the body. In turn, these antibodies travel to the cells, releasing chemicals that lead to symptoms of allergic reactions.
What are the Symptoms of a Peanut Allergy?
The symptoms of a peanut allergy can vary from one person to another. The body’s reactions can be as mild hives or as severe as anaphylaxis. Some of the symptoms of a peanut allergy include:
Mild Peanut Allergy Symptoms
- Watery or itchy eyes
- Runny or stuffy nose
Major Symptoms of a Peanut Allergy
- Vomiting or nausea
- Stomach cramps
- Inflammation in the tongue, lips, or the face
- Inflammation of the limbs
Life-Threatening Symptoms of a Peanut Allergy
Sometimes, a person’s allergic reaction to peanuts can be extreme and potentially life-threatening. Severe allergic reactions are also called anaphylaxis, which results in symptoms like:
- Shortness of Breath
- Dizziness and fainting
- A significant drop in blood pressure
- Airway edema
Adults, children, and babies alike can experience these symptoms. In children, allergic reactions can also result in a change of behavior.
How to Treat Mild & Severe Peanut Allergy Reactions
Mild symptoms of a peanut allergy often impact just one part of the body’s system, like the gastrointestinal tract or the skin. For mild reactions, people can use over-the-counter medicines called antihistamines.
Antihistamines are effective at eliminating mild symptoms like skin rashes, hives, and itchiness. However, oral antihistamines cannot immediately relieve the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. Sometimes, mild symptoms of a peanut allergy happen before developing into a more serious situation.
Treating severe allergic reactions to peanuts may require using an epinephrine injection. Epinephrine injections are very effective in suppressing the overreaction from the immune system, preventing the severe reaction from becoming life-threatening.
How to Prevent Peanut Allergies
The best way to treat the symptoms of a peanut allergy is to avoid exposure to it in the first place. If your patient has a diagnosis of a peanut allergy, further tests should be conducted to determine whether they are allergic to other types of nuts as well. Teaching a patient to be aware of ingredients in foods, and potential risks in environmental exposures is essential to reduce the risk of a reaction.
Treating symptoms of a peanut allergy can be tougher for babies. Health experts recommend avoiding introducing peanuts to children for at least the first six months of their lives.
Educating your patients on the importance of seeing a specialist for suspected allergies is critical. An allergist can review a person’s medical history and symptoms, and identify the severity of the peanut allergy, and any other related nut allergies.
As a nurse, educating patients and care delivery is a part of your role. To continue practicing, you must also renew your license before it expires. To renew your credentials, you must fulfill your state nursing board’s competency requirements, which include completing a required number of contact hours of nursing continuing education courses.
If your renewal period is near and you have yet to complete the required number of nursing continuing education contact hours, online nursing CEUs like those offered by Fast CE For Less are fast, easy, and convenient. Compiled in convenient and affordable bundles, the online nursing CEUs are available at www.fastceforless.com.