Adult-Onset Food Allergies: What to Know and How to Cope

Allergy doctors most commonly diagnose peanut allergies and other food allergies in children. However, a food allergy can develop at any age—even after eating the food for years without problems. Unfortunately, there’s no cure for food allergies, but it is manageable with strict avoidance of the allergen and treatments prescribed by the allergist.

Signs of Food Allergies

An allergic reaction to a food may be relatively mild, such as the appearance of hives, or it may be severe enough to be life-threatening. Even if you’ve previously experienced only mild allergic reactions, you could still potentially suffer from life-threatening symptoms. Some of the indications of a food allergy can include:

  • Tight throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Vomiting and stomach cramps
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Swollen tongue
  • Weak pulse
  • Repetitive cough
  • Shortness of breath

Risks of Food Allergies

Children who grow up with food allergies learn how to cope with them at an early age. But for newly diagnosed adults, the learning curve can be steep, and making a mistake can lead to serious consequences. While eating out at restaurants or at friends’ homes, for example, it’s more difficult to know if allergens are present in the food. Another risk of food allergies is the potential for cross-reactivity. This occurs when a person experiences a reaction to a food that is similar to the food allergen. For example, patients who are allergic to shrimp may also experience reactions to crab.

Strategies for Coping with Food Allergies

Learning how to manage food allergies as an adult can be tricky, but you can cope more easily if you partner with a board-certified allergy doctor. Allergists specialize in the management of food allergies and related conditions. Your doctor will design a personalized treatment plan for you, which will include an epinephrine autoinjector. You’ll need to keep the autoinjector with you at all times, just in case you experience a life-threatening reaction. The doctor will also help you learn how to avoid exposure to your allergen by reading food labels, preventing cross-contamination, and communicating carefully with restaurant staff.

Patients of all ages can find the specialized medical care they need at Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM. Our board-certified allergists are available to assist patients in center city Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, or Collegeville, Pennsylvania. New and current patients can reach us at 1(800)86-COUGH.