Adult-Onset Food Allergies Are More Common Than You May Think

It’s true that food allergies are most often detected in childhood. However, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2019 reveals that there are at least 12 million adults in the United States with adult-onset food allergies. And the numbers seem to be rising.

We aren’t surprised by those statistics here at Premier Allergy & Asthma. With 10 offices conveniently located across central Ohio, we regularly see adults with new-onset food allergies in our family-friendly practice.

Our team of top-rated allergy specialists provides ongoing allergy education and cutting-edge therapy for individuals of all ages. We’re happy to discuss adult-onset food allergies and the symptoms they can cause.

Understanding the basics of food allergies

You may be most familiar with environmental allergies that cause the immune system to overreact to essentially harmless substances (allergens) like pollen. The resulting sneezing, itchy eyes, and nasal drainage are caused by your immune response to what your body mistakenly identifies as a foreign invader.

That same type of overreaction occurs when you eat a food your immune system incorrectly identifies as a toxic substance.

Food allergy symptoms can vary in intensity and may be mild one time and quite severe the next time you consume the allergen.

These symptoms can include:

Food allergies can also cause difficulty breathing, dizziness, fainting, and other signs of a life-threatening emergency known as anaphylaxis.

Foods that trigger adult-onset allergies

While any food can trigger an allergic reaction, the 2019 JAMA study noted the most common adult food allergies in the US are:

Shellfish is by far the most common and persistent food allergy, affecting at least 7.2 million American adults.

Food allergy vs. food intolerance

It’s easy to confuse food intolerance with an allergy and vice versa because the symptoms are sometimes alike. Identifying whether you have an intolerance vs. an allergy is vital, however, since ignoring a food allergy can be life-threatening.

Food intolerance typically causes symptoms such as an upset stomach and diarrhea. An allergic reaction can cause gastric distress as well but may also lead to difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, and dangerously low blood pressure.  

Symptoms related to a food allergy typically come on faster than those caused by food intolerance. But the only way to know for sure whether your symptoms are allergy driven is to see a specialist for evaluation and testing.

At Premier Allergy & Asthma, we offer a variety of on-site tests that can accurately and safely identify the cause of your symptoms and pinpoint the foods your immune system finds dangerous.

Schedule a visit today at the office nearest you. Just call us or book your appointment online. Note that we also offer telemedicine services.   

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