To an asthma sufferer, a fit of wheezing and coughing probably seems like your average asthma attack. A new study, however, suggests shortness of breath and other symptoms linked to asthma might actually indicate a peanut allergy. After analyzing the records of 1,517 children with asthma at an Ohio respiratory clinic, researchers found 44% had undergone a blood test to indicate an allergy to peanuts and 22% tested positive. Overall, about one in 10 were found to have a peanut sensitivity, but 53% of affected children and their parents weren't aware of any adverse reaction, the Guardian reports. "Many of the respiratory symptoms of peanut allergy can mirror those of an asthma attack, and vice versa," the study author says. "Children with asthma might benefit from a test for peanut sensitivity, especially when control of wheezing and coughing is difficult to achieve."
Even if parents are fairly certain that their child doesn't have an issue with peanuts, a blood test could reveal surprising results. "Many people have positive allergy tests but can eat peanuts safely—and so it is unsurprising that many people tested for this research did not know they would have a positive test result," says a doctor at Asthma UK, adding asthma paired with a food allergy boosts the risk of a severe asthma attack. LiveScience notes a 2010 study found children with asthma and a peanut allergy were hospitalized twice as often as those with only asthma. Researchers also say certain asthma medications shouldn't be used by kids with peanut allergies. They hope to next investigate why asthma and peanut allergies appear to be linked, noting the rate at which peanut allergies were known to sufferers was "strikingly similar" across all ages, per Medical News Today. (Here's why you might want to feed your baby peanuts.)