You probably thought you figured out all your allergies when you were a kid, but actually, you can get more allergies as you age. Getting older can cause your stomach to make less gastric acid. This can make deficiencies in nutrients like zinc, vitamin D, or iron, which can cause the immune system to change. Could you have a food allergy and not even know it?
Could You Have a Food Allergy and Not Even Know It?
Around 1 in 10 people have food allergies and get them as adults. As mentioned, a food allergy is an immune system response to food, causing itching, hives, swelling, low blood pressure, anaphylactic shock, or a respiratory reaction. These can be life-threatening.
How Can You Find Out if You Have One or Not?
An allergist uses a skin prick test and pricks your skin with tiny allergen laden needles to see how your skin reacts. Blood tests are another option. Even though the testing is easy, many older adults don’t get these tests. They think they know how to handle it or that they don’t have an allergy.
Food Intolerance or Food Allergy?
It’s easy to confuse a food intolerance for an allergy. One study guesses that 25 to 30% of adults self-diagnose themselves with allergies.
A food intolerance makes a digestive reaction to food like cramping, diarrhea, gas, or bloating. These are common and not life-threatening. 30 to 50 million adults in the U.S. have a level of lactose intolerance.
The most common allergen adults get is shellfish. Around 7.2 million adults in the U.S. have this allergy. Other common allergies that adults get is milk, peanuts, tree nuts, finfish, eggs, wheat, soy, and sesame.
It can be hard to identify a food allergy in adults 50 and older. This is because the symptoms aren’t as obvious as when people are younger. It’s easy for professionals to mistake an allergy for problems with medication, sleep issues, viruses, autoimmune diseases, general aging, or stomach issues like irritable bowel syndrome.
Living with Food Allergies
Living with a food allergy requires constant vigilance on your part. You can’t just avoid the food. It could be an ingredient in foods you never thought of. It could also be in supplements. Eating out can be tough because you need to find a meal that’s safe for you.
Make sure to read the ingredient list on foods and supplements. Avoid cross-contamination if others in your house eat the food you are allergic to. Wash dishes before using them, and if you can afford it, have separate appliances like a toaster for example. Also, make sure that your family knows about your allergy that way, no accidents happen.
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