I’ll never forget Ricardo. Not because he was my first love or had any remarkable qualities, but because he was the reason I couldn’t enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at lunch. And that made me mad. In my defense, I was six. And as a six-year-old, that was a big deal.

You see, Ricardo was allergic to nuts. At that time, he was the only kid in elementary school – the only kid I knew – who had a food allergy.

Nowadays, food allergies in children are much more common and more severe. According to one study reported by PBS, they are only going to get more prevalent and more severe.

When it comes to food allergies, the focus mostly tends to be on children. However, the older population can get late-onset food allergies as well. An increasing life expectancy means that adults are living longer. Meaning, their bodies are living longer – and aging. This aging has an impact on the immune system. According to Today’s Geriatric Medicine, as the body ages, it changes; and some of those changes may actually cause food allergies to develop.

Food Allergy Symptoms

The article also states that the body’s aging process may also “diminish physical symptoms of a food allergy and delay medical attention. Here are a few mild-to-severe signs to be on the lookout for:

  • Hives or itchy skin
  • Stuffy nose, watery eyes, sneezing
  • Abdominal pains and cramping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea

Anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening, whole-body allergic reaction is less common in those over 50, according to research. If anaphylaxis does occur, it requires immediate medical attention. Call 911 immediately. A few symptoms of Anaphylaxis are:

  • Tightening throat
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Tingling in the hands, lips, feet, and scalp

Prevent Allergic Reactions

First and foremost, get diagnosed by a medical professional. They will give you information on how to take action against your food allergy. Some ideas include:

  • Read the labels on all packaged foods
  • If you are at a restaurant, let your server know of your food allergy, read the menu, and ask the chef for the ingredients in your entrée
  • Create new recipes or modify your old ones
  • Make hosts aware of your food allergy and bring your own food to get-togethers if needed
  • Be cautious about cross contamination. Always use the Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill method.

When it comes to your health, always seek the advice of a medical professional. This article is for informational purposes only.