May is Food Allergy Action month and the spotlight is on food allergies of all types and the people of all ages that suffer from them. One thing that most people don’t know is that even senior citizens can develop allergies later in life, even if they’ve never had a problem before. If you are part of an elderly care plan for an aging loved one, you need to learn about late onset food allergies so you can spot the symptoms when they first appear.
All About Food Allergies
Most people know that food allergies are caused by an overactive immune system. The immune system’s job is to attack invaders to the body and protect it from harm. For whatever reason, some immune systems react to non-harmful triggers the same way. There are many types of food that can set off an allergic reaction but most are linked to eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, soy and wheat.
Symptoms of food allergies are wide ranging, from respiratory problems to gastrointestinal distress. Skin rashes, dizziness, nausea and itching are other common symptoms. Some people experience mild allergies while others can have near-fatal reactions known as anaphylaxis. If you have an aging loved one, you may have noticed some of these symptoms, but never guessed that food allergies might be the cause.
All About Late Onset Food Allergies
Most food allergies manifest themselves in childhood, but a growing number of late onset food allergies are affecting adults as well. Even if they have never experienced a problem with a trigger food before, adults with late onset food allergies may get the symptoms out of the blue. In seniors, the symptoms tend to be more severe because their immune systems aren’t functioning as well as they used to.
Another reason why late onset food allergies are often ignored is because the symptoms are the same as a lot of other conditions, especially those in seniors. Underdiagnosed and undertreated—that’s the problem facing the elderly who suffer from food allergies that they develop later in life.
Good News About Food Allergies
When the trigger food is eliminated from the diet, the symptoms of the food allergy completely disappear. However, getting rid of the trigger food isn’t often as easy as it sounds. Some things, like shellfish and fish, may be easy to steer clear of in their entirety, but they can be hidden in things like a seafood salad or stuffed pasta dish.
Wheat, eggs and milk are much more difficult to avoid because they are often used in a lot of processed foods for texture and taste. For example, wheat is often found in gravy, hot dogs, sauces and even vitamins. Seniors with food allergies have to start reading labels to see if the foods have something in them that might set off their allergies. Family caregivers and elderly care aides can help identify potential problems.
If you suspect that your elderly loved one is suffering from a food allergy, there’s no better time to start making observations about what they eat and how they feel. Many people start a food journal to track intake and symptoms to help their loved one and the doctor identify patterns. With dedication and keen observation skills, you can help your aging loved one feel better by identifying and then managing their late onset food allergy.
If you or an aging loved one needs elderly care in Granite Bay, CA, remember Senior Home Care Services. Call us at (916) 514-7006 for more information.