Food allergies, my friends, are a scary thing. It’s like there’s a potential for poisoning from any food you didn’t make yourself!
I bet if you don’t have any food allergies right now, you’re thinking you never will. So, what I am about to say might shock you: you can develop food allergies later in life, as an adult. In fact, more older folks are discovering that now than ever before.
As reported by the Guardian, a national US study found that close to just over half of all Americans with food allergies developed those allergies after they turned 18 (https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/aug/21/can-adults-develop-food-allergies). The same study uncovered that shellfish was the most commonly seen allergy. The next most common allergen was peanuts, and that was followed by tree nuts such as cashews, pecans and walnuts.
Children, when suffering form wheat, milk or egg allergies, have the chance to “grow out” of that reaction as they get older. Interestingly, when an adult develops an allergy to a food, they often have that allergy for the rest of their life.
This large-scale study was led by food allergy researcher Dr. Ruchi Gupta of the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. She had noticed that during her global medical meetings, it appeared there were increasing reports of adults developing food allergies. Since this was nothing more than anecdotal information, Dr. Gupta and her research team decided to quantify the data. They examined data from over 40,000 adults on food allergies and discovered the foods that were triggering allergies in adults were also the same ones affecting many children across the country.
Once the researchers complied all of the data, Dr. Gupta and her team became interested in the reasons behind this adult allergy development trend. While gathering information from the sample group, researchers asked the participants what they thought was the cause behind their recently-acquired allergies. The answers reported varied, including moving to another country, suffering a viral illness or changing hormone levels. As Dr. Gupta and her team continue their work in this area, they hope these answers will help them understand why children carry some allergies through adulthood and why some adults develop new ones later in life.
I do hope you never develop a new food allergy, but if you suspect you are, be sure to consult with a doctor. What starts out as a mild reaction can develop into a more severe one over time, so you need to be prepared.