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Food Allergies - Adult Onset Allergy
Not All Allergies Start Right Away
While it is generally accepted that allergies tend to be present in childhood, while the immature immune system is still developing, it is also accepted that those allergies tend to disappear as the children grow up.
This is not the case with adult on-set allergies, particularly food sensitivities and allergic reactions where symptoms may appear quite suddenly, with no prior warning. Many adults who develop adult-onset allergies may have experienced a mild reaction to something in their childhood, but usually nothing that would raise an alarm. The reaction may indeed have gone completely unnoticed.
I remember quite clearly the first time it happened - my very first brush with an allergic reaction. I had stayed in the sun a bit too long, and had that reddened, crispy feeling that promised to linger for a day or two.
Familiar Foods Can Cause Reactions
Some Allergies Start Later in Life
"At least I didn't burn the back of my neck," I thought. Sun burn on the back of my neck was a guarantee of chills, nausea, and a severe headache.
I wore long sleeves for the next few days, until the color faded, and then went back to a cooler short-sleeved shirt as soon as possible. To my horror, after about fifteen minutes in the sunshine, my arms were covered with raised, red, circular blotches.
Complaining bitterly, I presented myself at the Health Unit the following morning, still looking as if I had been attacked by an irate baby squid - or a school of irate baby squids.
My friend, our local public health nurse, looked at the welts, asked a few questions, and nodded sagely. "You're allergic to the sun," she announced. Apparently, this is a more common allergy than you might think.
"Do you have any other allergies?" she asked. I hastened to assure her that as far as I knew I wasn't sensitive to anything.
"How can I have an allergy - only children get allergies," I insisted.
My friend laughed gently and went on to explain that often allergies will present in children, but that adult on-set allergies were a lot more common that most people realized. She also informed me that where children will often grow out of many allergies or sensitivities, adult on-set allergies are with you forever - you "grow into" them.
She also informed that once an adult developed one allergy, it was quite common for them to discover other allergies or sensitivities as well, and that I might develop some food sensitivities as well.
I must admit that, though properly horrified at the prospect, I really didn't believe I would ever fall heir to any other problems. Since then I have identified a number of both allergies and sensitivities to various substances; some foods, some chemicals - some naturally occurring and some man-made.
- HealthFinder.gov Adult Onset Allergies
The allergies can range from the merely irritating to the life-threatening. ... on the child's or adult's allergy and what is the likelihood of a reaction. ... healthfinder.gov is sponsored by the National Health Information Center ...
- Adult Onset Food Allergies - OrganizedWisdom Health
An allergic reaction occurs when your body's immune system treats a specific food as a foreign substance.
- Adult on-set allergy awareness « daily blessings
17 Feb 2007 ... Adult onset allergies are more and more common than rare. Six and a half years, my husband grew into his. He almost died a few times before ...
Fairly Common Allergy Triggers
For a while it seemed that the list just kept getting longer and longer. It seemed as if admitting to one allergy opened the door to a whole flood of them. Not all were severe, and so these are considered only sensitivities. A few, however, turned out to be quite severe reactions - full-blown allergies.
Generally speaking, allergies are viewed as more or less severe depending on the reaction. In the case of a severe allergic reaction, anaphylaxis may occur, characterized by swelling of the throat and tongue, difficulty breathing, and loss of consciousness. Also called anaphylactic shock this condition is life threatening without proper treatment.
Many who suffer from allergies that trigger such extreme reactions carry epinephrine syringes known as "epipens" and wear Medic Alert bracelets or necklaces. My son carried an epipen for years in his travel kit in case of bee stings.
My list of sensitivities and allergies includes some fairly common ones along with a few rather odd fellows.
Grasses, flowers, ragweed, pollens, and all the lovely flowers that bloom in the Spring, tra-la...again, quite common allergies - annoying and wide-spread.
I won't list all the symptoms - I'm sure we've seen enough commercials to know then by heart! Many of these are easily and effectively combated with an over-the-counter remedy. Which leads me to another on my list - one that is, for me, genuinely life-threatening.
Antihistamines - the very product that makes life bearable for so many of us. This allergy is actually life-threatening in my case, and I had a couple of close calls before I learned the golden rule of "say 'No' to any and all over-the-counter and prescription cold and allergy remedies."
There are two I can safely use, and my doctor has plastered this all over my file, just in case I am ever incapacitated and admitted to the hospital. As well, I have become a practiced pharmaceuticals label reader.
And that is an important point for all allergy sufferers: read the labels, on everything
Sunlight - actually, this is a fairly widespread allergy and, in its extreme form can be life threatening. Polymorphous light eruption (PMLE) is the most common form of sun and/or heat allergy, more often seen in women than men. Symptoms include an itchy or burning rash, periods of chills, nausea and headache, and raised areas of flat, reddened welts or fluid-filled blisters.
The extreme form of photo-sensitivity occurs rarely, and most often in children. It has been speculated that this may have been the basis for at least part of our current "vampire lore," as children afflicted with this allergy become virtual day-time shut-ins. Any exposure to sunlight can cause severe burning of the exposed skin, blindness, and acute allergic reaction.
Red food coloring (and green food coloring) - this, too is a fairly common allergy. Ingesting either food coloring can cause hives, flushing of the skin and itching particularly on the stomach and flanks. Do you have any idea how many foods and beverages contain red coloring?
Try reading some labels at your local supermarket. You will find it enlightening. Here's a short list - cherry cake mix; some flavors of Jello; most red-colored pops, juices or reconstituted fruit drinks; some flavored coffees; many products containing chocolate; some kinds of chocolate; many processed meats including bologna and wieners; strawberry ice cream; many cookies; anything pink or red in color that has the word "color" in its list of ingredients; some blended scotch whiskeys...
Nuts are one major allergy causing food. The incidence of nut allergies is almost epidemic in young and school-age children. Conventional wisdom used to say don't feed nuts or nut products 'til your child reaches at least the age of two.
Now, doctors and immunologists are suggesting we should be introducing these foods much sooner, and that withholding them is leading to more allergies than if we had gone ahead and let baby have a peanut butter sandwich as soon as they're able to chew.
It will probably take a few more years and trials to sort it out. In the meantime, I buy nut-free candies for giving out on Halloween.
More Common Allergens
Cinnamon, summer savory, and oregano - I have met others who have similar problems with these and other herbs and seasonings. You will remember I mentioned that I can and do enjoy apple pie? Well, try finding any commercially prepared form of this product that doesn't contain cinnamon. As far as dining out goes, apple pie is still on my forbidden list. So is dining in an Italian restaurants for the most part.
Onions - green, red, white, yellow, purple, sharp or sweet - all raw onions...and yes, even if you pick them out, they have touched the other food. Traces of the juice is still there and it will make me ill - even if I can't taste it, and I don't know you chopped the onions with the same knife you then used for the peppers, celery and tomatoes.
I cook with onions all the time - the secret for my health is to cook them thoroughly. My daughter-in-law is the exact opposite - cooked onions are "deadly poison", but she loves them raw.
Citrus Fruits, Pineapple, and most varieties of Apples - this is not quite so common, especially the apple allergy - who could be allergic to apples?
In my case, this only applies to fresh forms of these foods - canned fruit seems to be acceptable. It may have something to do with the processing, which often exposes the fruit enzymes to heat. Cooked forms of the fruits, especially apple pie and apple sauce -Thank goodness! - as well as some preserves such as canned mandarin oranges and canned pineapple cause no reaction.
Milk and most milk products - Lactose intolerance is becoming more and more common in developed countries, and is caused by the sufferer's inability to digest lactose, an enzyme that occurs naturally in milk.
This can cause bloating, gas, painful cramping, upset stomach. I am very fortunate as I am able to tolerate cooked milk products, so I can still enjoy a creme caramel, but a yummy, ice-cold, chocolate milkshake will put me out of commission for several hours. Many find relief with an over-the-counter products, or specially treated milk in which the enzyme has been modified with heat treatment.
Lactose Intolerance or Milk Allergy
Fragrances Can Be Problematic
Scents, fragrances, perfumes, perfumed lotions and potions, some hair sprays, many scented bath products, scented dryer sheets, some laundry detergents...you get the idea. Allergies to scent is amazingly widespread, and can be very selective. One scent or line of products may set you off where another will provoke no reaction at all.
I love perfume and scented bath products! I just can't live with most of them - the sneezing, itching, watery eyes, scratchy throat and general malaise that follows just isn't worth it. Fortunately for me, and for thousands like me who are similarly affected, public awareness of scent allergies is on the rise. Unscented versions of our favorite laundry products are now generally available.
Most Interview Preparation instruction now includes a little blurb on scent allergies, encouraging the job seeker to go scentless to their interview, just in case.
Often this courtesy isn't extended to the work place. I remember one colleague who would retreat to the far side of the room, or to the ladies room to refresh her perfume, then re-emerge into our common work-space wafting a cloud of scent in her wake. She appreciated that I am allergic, and always went into the other room to refresh her scent. But it didn't seem to occur to her that wearing the scent near me was just as likely to provoke an allergic reaction as spraying it in the room.
Beautiful Scented Bath Gels
A Quick Poll...
Do You Have Allergies or Sensitivities?
To Sum Up...
This is by no means the complete list, but I find, like many other allergy sufferers, the hardest part of having sensitivities and allergies is having them taken seriously.
Having to say that a particular food or seasoning made me ill was uncomfortable at first - like admitting to a weakness, almost. My family is well aware of which foods or seasonings I must avoid ingesting, but I felt a bit silly at first, asking for concessions to my new dietary needs. Fortunately, or unfortunately, my sisters have developed adult on-set allergies, so we all look out for each other, but it can be difficult at times to remember everything to avoid.
Dining out can be more problematic. On the whole, I find it simpler to say, "I am allergic to...", rather having to explain degrees of severity. Nowadays we are more enlightened towards allergies, particularly in children, and the word "allergy" usually commands more respect and consideration from both your server and the kitchen.
I am far more fortunate than a lot of allergy sufferers, as most of my food sensitivities are not life-threatening. True, they can make me very ill, and I have sometimes felt death would be preferable to further suffering, but, on the whole, I am fairly lucky.
Others are not, but we all need to be more aware of what we are putting into and onto our bodies. One rule of thumb states if you can't pronounce it and it has more than ten letters, it probably isn't anything Mother Nature ever thought of, and you better think twice before throwing it in your cart.
And always, always follow these simple steps:
Read the labels
Read the labels
Read the labels
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