man with with different food allergies around him

New Food Allergy as an Adult?

Adults suddenly developing food allergies? Isn’t that just for kids?

Well, you would think that from everything you read online. The focus is always on kids with food allergies. But what about adults?

Developing food allergies

Did you know that 26 million adults in the U.S. have food allergies? And 50% of them developed food allergies as an adult? Did you also know that you are  more likely to to develop food allergies if you have asthma, eczema and hay fever?

To put that in perspective, about 6 million kids have allergies in the U.S (versus 26 million adults).

Some kids can outgrow food allergies. Middle Son outgrew his milk allergy, but still has an allergy to tree nuts.

But adults can suddenly develop a food allergy to something they have eaten all their life. That happened to me with seafood. I started getting widespread redness on my body, my face started to swell and tingle, my heart started beating like crazy, and my stomach felt sick. I couldn’t figure out what was going on.

When Allergy & Asthma Doc and I finally put 2 and 2 together, we realized my reactions happened every time I was exposed to seafood. Asthma Doc said you can develop a new allergy at any time. He said that includes new food allergies (and new environmental allergies that can affect your asthma.)

When I was talking to a family member about my new food allergy, he said, “No way! I remember you eating tuna sandwiches as a kid! There’s no way you are allergic to seafood now!” Well, allergies (and asthma) can change over time, surprise!

Three main foods that can suddenly cause an allergy

The Today Show had a story on TV said that there are 3 main foods that can suddenly cause a food allergy for adults. They are:

  • Seafood
  • Fish
  • Tree Nuts

Signs of an allergic reaction

So, what are the signs of an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis?) FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) lists1:

 Mild Symptoms:
“Antihistamines may be given, if recommended by a physician, for a single mild symptom, such as

  • >Nose: itchy/runny nose, sneezing
  • Mouth: itchy mouth
  • Skin: a few hives, mild itch
  • Gut: mild nausea/discomfort
  • If these symptoms worsen, give epinephrine.”

Severe Symptoms:

“Administer epinephrine (using the individual’s easy-to-use epinephrine auto-injector)  and call 911 for any of the following severe symptoms:

  • Lung: shortness of breath, wheezing, repetitive cough
  • >Heart: pale, blue, faint, weak pulse, dizzy
  • Throat: tight, hoarse, trouble breathing/swallowing
  • Mouth: significant swelling of the tongue and/or lips
  • Skin:  many hives over body, widespread redness
  • Gut: repetitive vomiting or severe diarrhea
  • Other: feeling something bad is about to happen, anxiety confusion
  • Or a combination of mild or severe symptoms from different body areas”

So, if you are an adult, do you need to worry about developing a new food allergy?

No, but knowledge is power! When I teach families about allergies and asthma, I think it’s important for them to know all the facts – just in case! I’ll tell them to just “tuck in the back of their mind”, and if anything ever happens, you’ll have the information you need.

Has anyone else developed a new food allergy as an adult?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
View References
  1. https://www.foodallergy.org/about-fare/blog/food-allergy-reactions-what-to-do-in-an-emergency

Comments

View Comments (2)
  • Shellzoo
    2 weeks ago

    I developed a nut allergy a few years ago. Reading labels is my life.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Hi Shellzoo – once you know your triggers, it helps to avoid them. I see you’ve got this down pat! Keep up the good work – it’s your best avenue for prevention. Leon (site moderator)

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