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Can Adults Develop Food Allergies?

Jul 27, 2008
A food allergy can develop at any time in a person's life. So, yes, it's possible for adults to develop food allergies. It's not clear why or how this is done.

Although food allergies occur most often in infants and children, they can appear at any age and can be caused by foods that had been previously eaten without any problems. Finally, excessive exposure to a particular food may affect the overall rate of allergy to that food, as testified by the high prevalence of fish allergy among Scandinavians and of rice allergy among the Japanese.

Heredity seems to be the prime reason some people have allergies and others don't. If both parents had allergies, you have approximately a 75% chance of being allergic. If one parent is allergic, or you have relatives on one side with allergies, you have a 30 to 40 percent chance of developing some form of allergy. If neither parent had an apparent allergy, the chance is 10 to 15 percent.

Once the diagnosis of a food allergy has been confirmed, the most effective method is not eating the food in any form. The patient must be careful in checking with labels on food products and learning names to identify the food responsible for the allergy. This way they can be assured the food or food additive is not present in what they are consuming.

When dining out, be careful and take an extra measure by taking your medications with you. If you have a history of severe reactions, you will want your medicine handy. Waiters aren't paid to know all the ingredients in every dish on the menu.

In many adult food allergies, strict adherence to an elimination diet is the main process of outgrowing the food allergy. The majority number of patients with documented allergic reactions to eggs, cow's milk, and soy eventually become tolerant to these items. Allergies to things such as peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish, however last a lifetime and are never outgrown.

Overall, approximately one-third of children and adults will eventually be free of their allergic reactions to foods after rigorously following appropriate diets free of the offending food allergens.

After removal of the foods responsible for your allergic reactions, your allergist may recommend that you have an oral food challenge under observation to reassess your symptoms. If you are without a reaction, then you will be able to reintroduce this food into your diet. If symptoms occur, the dietary restriction will need to stay in place.
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