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How can people be so allergic to peanuts?

How can some people be so allergic to peanuts that they can’t even be around them? How can just the smell of peanuts give some one such a severe allergic reaction?
Ashley Kent from County Durham (age 25-34)

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One Response

  1. Allergies can be very severe or very mild or somewhere in between. In an allergic reaction the person reacts to contact with the substance they are allergic too, in the case of peanuts these are some of the proteins in the peanut. Most people have a threshold, below which they are unlikely to react, but the amount will vary depending on the person and the point of contact – injected allergens tend to produce more severe reactions than those swallowed or placed in the mouth or touching the skin. Asthma can be very severe for those allergens which are inhaled. The threshold is often a small amount but the protein has to make contact with the person.

    Luckily very few people are so severely allergic that they react badly when simply entering a room where an allergen may be, unless it has been somehow sprayed into the air, or is present in the steam produced by cooking, or is present in sufficient amounts on the surfaces they touch or foods they eat.

    The Royal College of Pathologists is holding an event during National Science and Engineering Week. Our first National Pathology Week (3 – 9 November 2008) is taking place this year. See http://www.rcpath.org/index.asp?PageID=1526 for more details.

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