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senior with inhaler According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, more than 50 million Americans have an allergy of some kind. Food allergies can appear at any age and to foods that previously were eaten without any problem. A food allergy reaction occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to a food or a substance in a food, identifying it as a danger and triggering a protective response. Some food allergies are obvious. They cause hives, rashes, vomiting, diarrhea, trouble breathing and anaphylactic shock. Other symptoms of food allergies may be less obvious but are just as dangerous to the sufferer. They include migraines, numbness in the arms or legs, inability to focus, poor concentration, fatigue, depression, brain fog, headaches, mood fluctuations, itchiness, sneezing, gas, sinus congestion, and skin rashes. For frail seniors, these symptoms can exacerbate other chronic illnesses and should be avoided. If you are trying to determine what may be causing a loved one’s headaches, rashes or other unexplained symptoms, check their level of consumption of these foods that cause approximately 90% of food allergy reactions:
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts, like walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, brazil nuts, and pecans
  • Soy
  • Wheat and other grains with gluten including barley, rye, and oats
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
Among these, the most common food allergens in adults are:
  • Fruit and vegetable pollen (oral allergy syndrome)
  • Peanuts and tree nuts
  • Fish and shellfish
Symptoms of an allergic reaction may involve the skin, the gastrointestinal tract, the cardiovascular system and the respiratory tract. They can surface in one or more of the following ways:
  • Vomiting and/or stomach cramps
  • Hives
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Repetitive cough
  • Shock or circulatory collapse
  • Tight, hoarse throat; trouble swallowing
  • Swelling of the tongue, affecting the ability to talk or breathe
  • Weak pulse
  • Pale or blue coloring of skin
  • Dizziness or feeling faint
  • Anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening reaction that can impair breathing and send the body into shock; reactions may simultaneously affect different parts of the body (for example, a stomach ache accompanied by a rash).This must be treated promptly with an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline)
  • Food allergies have their own rhythm and vary significantly from one person to another
  • Most food-related symptoms are experienced within two hours of ingestion but some may start within minutes
  • Symptoms can range from mild to severe and allergic reactions to the same food can become increasingly severe over time
  • An allergy to one food may indicate an allergy to related foods. For example, a person who is allergic to tree nuts may also be allergic to peanuts (grown in the ground). Someone who allergic to crab may be allergic to all shellfish
A board-certified allergist can conduct comprehensive allergy tests to help determine an individual’s list of allergies. This will help an aging loved one to avoid allergy symptoms such as choking or vomiting that can pose special dangers to those who are frail. Home Care Assistance caregivers provide the constant care and observation needed to keep a loved one safe. If you worry about a senior family member and their ability to eat well or carry out activities of daily living, our caregivers can provide the daily assistance needed. Our Home Care Advantage checklist can help you to review the resources that are available to you. We can support your caregiving responsibilities and help to support the health and well-being of your loved one.
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