tuna, milk, soy bean, sesame, shrimp, wheat, eggs, peanuts

Developing New Food Allergies

I am hooked on a podcast, "Chasing Life," with Sanjay Gupta. It talks about different medical problems that are a little mysterious. I was listening to 1 episode about food allergies. A family had gone camping near a lake and spent the day fishing. The dad fried up the fish for dinner and 1 of the kids had an allergic reaction.

The dad did not think that was possible because the child was ‘only’ allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. After using an epinephrine auto-injector, they made a frantic drive down the mountain to the nearest town. There, the medical staff stabilized the child. The next week, the dad took the child to their allergist but still could not believe his child could have developed a new food allergy.

Did you know that anyone can develop a new food allergy - at any time?  Food allergies and environmental allergies can be common in those of us with asthma.1

Developing new food allergies

Any food can cause an allergic reaction, but the most common are called the "Big 9" and include:2

  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Wheat
  • Fish (finned fish)
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Sesame (newly added to the list!)

Food allergies can vary from mild to severe - and can be deadly. But there is no way to tell how bad the next reaction may be.2,3

Some food allergies can be outgrown, such as milk and eggs. Luckily, my son outgrew his milk and egg allergy.2

But - some food allergies are lifelong...I’m looking at you, seafood, and tree nuts!2

Although some food allergies appear in childhood, some can show up when you are an adult. Surprise! I was well into my 20’s when I had a sudden allergic reaction to seafood. A family member said they did not believe me because “I had eaten tuna fish when we were little.” Well, I can't now!1,2

My middle son and I both are allergic to tree nuts and seafood, so we know we will have to be careful for the rest of our lives. Add that to our environmental allergies and asthma, and life is fun! (Please note my sarcasm here...)

Symptoms of an allergic reaction

It is important to know the signs of an allergic reaction. But, symptoms can be tricky because they can involve different areas of the body, such as the airways, skin, stomach, or heart. The most common symptoms are:2

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Tongue swelling
  • Trouble swallowing/Tight or hoarse throat
  • Coughing and/or wheezing
  • Hives
  • Feeling faint or dizzy
  • Weak pulse
  • Pale or blue skin color

Anaphylaxis (a potentially deadly allergic reaction) happens when you have multiple symptoms at the same time. This may include a rash, problems breathing, and a sudden drop in blood pressure that affects your heart rate. That can be a lot for your body to fight all at once. Some people can recover, but others may not. 1,2

Treatment

Middle Son and I carry a twin pack of epinephrine auto-injectors everywhere we go. You never know when you might be exposed to your food allergy. Many states also keep epinephrine autoinjectors in schools. These are meant to be used in an emergency for anyone in the school. Quick treatment is vital because someone can die within 15 minutes after eating a food they are allergic to.3

My son and I try to avoid tree nuts and seafood (but that can be hard.) We also let everyone know about our food allergies. We also wear medic alert jewelry, just in case. I also carry Chef Cards in my purse and give those to restaurant staff. This is a small card that lists my food allergy and asks the line chef to be careful about cross-contamination.

For those of you with food allergies, was anyone else diagnosed in adulthood? Let's hear your stories!

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