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Senior Health: Understanding Late-Onset Allergies

Physical changes associated with aging, such as changes in the function of the immune system and in the body’s efficiency in absorbing nutrients from food, can lead to the emergence of late-in-life food allergies. Correct diagnosis is the essential first step in effective management of late-in-life food allergies. Learn more about late-onset food allergies from the Columbus senior care professionals at Home Care Assistance.

Higher Risk of Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis

Severe symptoms, such as anaphylaxis, are more readily diagnosed as a food allergy. However, the cellular changes and decreased function of an aging immune system make such dramatic and severe symptoms less likely to occur. A slower, weaker response is more likely, producing less severe symptoms. That can increase the risk of a misdiagnosis or a delay in reaching the correct diagnosis.

Symptoms to watch for include hives, rashes, itchiness, swollen lips, swollen eyes, eye irritation, fatigue, gastric distress, runny nose, and sinus irritation. If seniors experience these symptoms frequently or diagnosis and treatment fail to alleviate them, it may be time to test for food allergies. Common late onset food allergies include, but are not limited to, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts and shellfish.

Clinical Diagnosis Is Best

Clinical tests used to diagnose food allergies include skin prick, blood, oral trial and elimination diet testing. Self-diagnosis is inexact and can cause further health problems. It can lead to excluding the wrong foods from the diet, leaving seniors malnourished and more vulnerable to sickness. A clinical diagnosis provides information essential to managing the allergy, such as foods to avoid and the potential for severe reactions.

Prevention and Treatment

Food avoidance is the most common treatment. Another method is a doctor-supervised immunotherapy program of desensitization by gradually increasing exposure to the food. If your loved one is prescribed an emergency epinephrine shot, keep it readily available and replace as directed by the expiration date.

To learn more about senior wellness, turn to the friendly staff at Columbus Home Care Assistance. All of our care services include the use of our revolutionary Balanced Care Method, which helps seniors maintain emotional, mental, and physical wellness. To learn more, give us a call at (614) 481-8888 and request a free in-home consultation.