Mina was worried about her elderly father, who had been experiencing bloating, gas, nausea and vomiting on and off for several weeks now. As they sat together in the examination room at the health clinic, the doctor did a thorough examination and took some blood for testing.
When the results came in, Mina was shocked to learn that her father had developed a food allergy to milk, which was causing the gastrointestinal distress. She couldn’t understand it because her father had never had a problem with milk before. However, as she and her father learned more about late onset food allergies, it became more and more clear that milk and dairy products were causing his problems.
Food allergies are commonly discussed in elementary school classrooms and among parents of young children, but less focus is placed on late onset food allergies. This happens when adults, usually age 30 and up, develop allergic reactions to certain foods. It can happen at any time and without warning, even if the person has not suffered with any allergies up to that point. Seniors are especially vulnerable to new allergic reactions to foods they’ve enjoyed their entire lives.
Because May is Food Allergy Action Month, it’s a fine time for caregivers to learn more about food allergies and whether their elderly loved ones might be suffering with symptoms that have gone unrecognized.
There are 7 things that caregivers need to know about late onset food allergies in seniors:
- Symptoms of late onset food allergies can include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, bloating, gas, shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, headaches, skin rashes and swollen throat and tongue.
- Seniors are often underdiagnosed for late onset food allergies because the symptoms are attributed to other age-related conditions and illnesses.
- Because their immune system is less robust, seniors often develop more serious symptoms than younger adults.
- The most common food triggers for late onset food allergies are peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, milk, eggs and wheat.
- To identify a food allergy, it’s best to track both meals and symptoms for at least two weeks to see if patterns emerge.
- Doctors can perform skin prick tests and blood tests to confirm a suspected allergic reaction in an elderly loved one.
- Symptoms should completely disappear once the senior can avoid the trigger food in their diet.
If an aging loved one is suffering from mysterious symptoms that don’t seem to be getting any better, it’s worth it for family caregivers to eliminate the possibility of late onset food allergies. If a food allergy is discovered, then family members can work together with their elderly loved one to avoid the trigger food and eliminate symptoms once and for all.
Thanks to the help of a dietician, Mina and her father were about to come up with new ways to get the nutrition he needed without milk in his diet. After carefully outlining the new dietary restrictions to the home care assistant and other family caregivers, Mina felt confident that her father could return to his happier and healthier self, despite his late onset food allergy.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregiver services in Stockton, CA, contact the caring staff at Provident Home Care. Call today (877) 572-3411.
Robin Conley RN., Owner and CEO of Provident Care Home Care Providing HOME CARE- ASSISTED LIVING PLACEMENT ASSISTANCE
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