Geriatric Nutrition: Late On-Set Food Allergies

Elderly patients are at higher risk of food allergy due to their aging immune systems.

As individuals age, so do our immune systems. With the significant increase in life expectancy, its projected that by 2050, more than 80 million adults will be aged 65 or older while another 20 million adults will be aged 85 or older. This rapidly growing geriatric population will experience “immunosenescence”, the aging of the immune system.

As a chef specializing in the health & medicine sector, I’ve experienced my fair share of patients and/or clients who’ve experienced the late on-set of food allergies.  Allergies can occur at any time in life.  The symptoms can range from mild to severe.  In some cases health care professionals may not always identify the reported symptoms as potential food allergies. Oftentimes they can be incorrectly mistaken for problems with medication, sleep deprivation, environmental allergies, GI issues, viruses, autoimmune disorders, or simply attributed to general aging effects.

There are 8 foods most commonly responsible for allergic reactions:  milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish.

Here are some tips to keep an eye out for if you suspect you or someone you love may have a food allergy, as well as some steps to treat it!

Sudden physical reaction; often triggered by only a small amount of food.
Rash, hives, or itchy skin.
Shortness of breath.
Chest pain.
Sudden drop in blood pressure, trouble swallowing or breathing — this is life-threatening. Call 911 immediately.

Keep a food diary and record symptoms as they occur.
Test different foods for their reaction; called a Food Trial Elimination.
See a doctor for an allergy test. Better to be safe than sorry!

Read more about Treatment & Managing Reactions here.


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