Can You Develop Food Allergies at Any Age?

It's true, adults could develop food allergies. Both adults and seniors can experience food allergy symptoms for the first time.

The symptoms can range from mild discomfort to serious or even life threatening.


Common Food Allergy Triggers

Most allergic reactions to foods are caused by the following triggers:

  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Tree nuts
  • Wheat

Although other foods can also trigger an allergic reaction, one of these ingredients most likely will be to blame. It's also important to know that the foods you tolerated for years can suddenly spark a negative reaction.

Food Allergy Symptoms

Food allergy attacks usually occur anytime between a few minutes to a few hours after eating the food in question. Symptoms include:

  • Mouth, throat, and lip swelling
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Hives
  • Rapid pulse
  • Fainting
  • Anaphylaxis

Some people have more mild reactions initially, but they can become more severe with continued exposure to the allergen.

What You Should Know About Food Allergies

The good news is that only about one to two percent of the adult population will experience a true allergic reaction to food. The rest of the people who have symptoms after a meal aren't having a genuine allergic reaction to food, but are instead suffering from an intolerance. Food intolerances can look similar to a food allergy, but unlike food allergies, they won't usually progress into anything more serious.

Diagnosing Adult Food Allergies

If you suspect you have adult food allergies, schedule an appointment with your doctor. He'll run some diagnostic tests to get to the root of the problem. Keep a diary of what you eat and when your symptoms occur to help identify what's triggering your reaction.

Once you know your allergens, take steps to avoid coming into contact with them. So read ingredient labels, avoid cross-contamination (which occurs when "safe" foods come into contact with the allergen), and carry an EpiPen®.




"Food Allergies." Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA)., 2005. Web. 7 Jan. 2012.

"Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Food Allergy in the United States." National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), May 2011. Web. 7 Jan. 2012.

"Tips for Managing Food Allergies." The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network. FAAN, 19 Oct. 2011. Web. 7 Jan. 2012.