New food allergies in adults can unexpectedly appear
BY DR. KOMOROFF Universal Uclick
Thursday, August 02, 2012
8/02/12 at 2:19 AM
Dear Doctor K: I recently ate shrimp and broke out in hives. Could I have developed a new food allergy as an adult?
Dear Reader: Yes, you can, and it's not that unusual. Allergic reactions are overblown immune responses against a harmless substance - in some cases, a food. You can develop allergies at any point in your life, and fish and shellfish allergies are more likely than others to begin in adulthood.
Allergies that spring up in adulthood stay with you forever. In contrast, many children outgrow their food allergies.
If your doctor hasn't already done it, skin and blood tests can help establish that you do, in fact, have a shrimp allergy.
If you are allergic to shrimp, you'll have to keep all traces of it out of your diet:
Sometimes food allergies in adults do cause abdominal symptoms such as nausea and fatty, loose bowel movements. But sometimes the allergy is reflected just in a skin reaction.
- Shop cautiously. Food manufacturers must flag potential allergens in plain English. Still, read every label, even if you have purchased the item before. Manufacturers frequently change ingredients and may have slipped in an allergen.
- Take care when cooking. If other people in your household continue to eat shrimp, you could get exposed to small amounts of shrimp proteins, and these could trigger an allergic reaction. If possible, use a separate set of cooking and eating utensils. Otherwise, wash dishes and utensils thoroughly in hot, soapy water.
- Dine out defensively. Let the manager or chef know about your allergy before you order.
- Wear a medical ID bracelet. Make sure it lists relevant information about your allergy.
- Carry two doses of epinephrine. Commonly known as an EpiPen or TwinJet, it can be injected into your thigh should you feel an attack coming on. Ask your doctor if your reaction to shrimp was severe enough that it is necessary for you to carry this medicine with you at all times.
Write Dr. K at www.AskDoctorK.com or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut, Kansas City, MO 64106