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Home Care – Food Allergies in the Elderly

Elder Care in Fairfax VA: Adult-Onset Allergies

Elder Care in Fairfax VA: Adult-Onset Allergies

It is not uncommon in this day in age for a child to be allergic to something like peanuts or strawberries or gluten. Childhood is usually when food allergies are diagnosed, and the child knows from then on that they must be careful about certain foods for the rest of their lives.

But what about adults who find out later in life that they are allergic to something?

Although this sounds bizarre, it is not uncommon for adults to find out at a later age that they are suddenly allergic to something that they weren’t allergic to when they were a child.  This is called adult-onset allergies, and it is particularly prevalent in senior citizens.

One may think that if you were going to be allergic to something, you would find out the first time you come into contact with it, usually when you are a child.  But research suggest that this is not the case at all.  The elderly are especially prone to developing food allergies later in life due to the fact that our immune system ages as we do.  This aging of the immune system, called immunosenescence, leads to a lessening of its effectiveness.  Age can weaken the immune system, compromising its ability to fight off threats like allergens.  It is possible that when a person was younger, their immune system was perfectly capable of fighting off the potential allergens in peanut butter, but when they get older, their defenses may not be as capable of holding their own against the threat.

A decrease in the production of stomach acid in an elderly person’s stomach can also contribute to a late onset of allergies.  The body isn’t able to break down food as well or as quickly, so it has more time to wreak havoc on the system before it passes through.

Some of the most common foods that cause food allergies are varied, and are things that the senior may eat every day.

For example: The top eight most common food allergens are things that are probably sitting in your fridge or on top of your kitchen table right now: shellfish, milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, and fish.

Some other surprising culprits are: Apples, tomatoes, carrots, peaches, plums, and bananas, but this is not due to the foods themselves.   It is due, instead, to the pollen and spores that may be on them from the area where they were grown.  Luckily, this type of allergy can be kept in check by thoroughly washing any fruit or vegetables before letting your loved-one consume them.

If you or your home care aide suspect that your loved-one might be displaying signs of a food allergy, don’t discount your theory.  Just because they are older doesn’t mean that they can’t have food allergies for the first time.  Disregarding signs just because allergies seem unlikely can be dangerous to your loved-one’s health, so make sure to take action as soon as possible to get them the help and relief they need.

Are you or a loved-one considering eldercare in Fairfax, VA?  Please call the caring staff at Medical Professionals On Call today.
Contact: 703-273-8818

Michelle DeFilippis

I graduated with a BS degree and had been selling medical equipment to hospitals, clinics and technicians. More recently, a family member was diagnosed with dementia and we, as a family, realized we were not prepared t care for her. We were thrown into that whirlpool of hospital stays, 24/7 live-in care, skilled care, caring for mom ourselves and finally, now daily home care. This was such a stressful time that I started thinking there had to be other people, other families as overwhelmed and unprepared as we were.

Medical Professionals On Call has such a caring, professional staff who are available to step in with whatever level of care necessary for loved ones and to relieve you of that stress.