Peanut allergies, one of the most common allergies in the world, have an effect either directly or indirectly every day.
According to Dr. Sunny Thomas of Warren Pediatrics, "Northwest Pennsylvania seems to have more allergies including food, asthma and skin allergies. It is more than the national average and I am not certain why."
"Nationally," said Thomas, "six percent of people have food allergies and one and two percent have a peanut allergy although it is higher locally."
Those who have a peanut allergy have several reactions, according to Thomas.
"It may begin with a swelling of the lips, itching and then possibly move on to stomach cramping," said Thomas. "Sometimes they throw up from the effect."
Skin reactions to a peanut allergy, said Thomas, include swelling, redness and hives, but the most serious includes tightening in the throat, wheezing and fainting.
The most severe reaction can result in death.
"Recently, peanut allergies are being taken more seriously and schools are educating students, staff and parents to be aware that it is a common allergy," said Thomas. "A program designed by foodallergy.org is one of the programs that schools use to educate. It has a five-point system of rules that are easy to follow."
The five rules:
Food allergies are serious. Don't make jokes about them.
Don't share your food with friends who have food allergies.
Wash your hands after eating.
Ask what your friends are allergic to and help them avoid it.
If a friend becomes ill, get help immediately.
Also locally, schools have initiated separate peanut free lunch tables and the YMCA has a peanut free section at its daycare.
"We started the peanut free babysitting room after one of the parents had a child with severe allergies," said Kathy Lindsey, director of childcare at the YMCA. "We have also made the Character Club room food and peanut free as well so that children can play freely without worrying about getting sick."
"We make sure that parents and staff are reading labels and checking food that is brought into the babysitting room," said Lindsey. "We have them bring their own snack for each child so that they are not mixing food. We are aware there is a significant danger for children who have peanut allergies and we want to make it easy for them so there isn't a problem."