As people age, their bodies change in a variety of ways and one of the most unfortunate of those is the development of new allergies. Peanut allergies are among the most common, and they can be a dangerous condition if not treated properly. Here’s what you need to know about the sudden development of peanut allergies..

New Food Allergies Happen In The Elderly All The Time

Even if you’ve never suffered from allergies in the past, you might suddenly develop an allergy to peanuts. Why? It has to do with the aging of your immune system, a process known as immunosensecence. As the process occurs, mast cells are affected, cells that are heavily involved in monitoring allergic reactions. As a result, new allergies can begin.

It is estimated that about 5%-10% of the elderly (above 65) population has some form of allergies and that 24.8% of all nursing home patients (over the age of 77) have food allergies. This gives you a feel for how quickly allergies can develop as you age.

Gauging If You Are Suffering From An Allergic Reaction

Peanut allergies are very fast acting, and if you have developed one, you should notice the following symptoms within minutes of eating even a handful of nuts:

  • Hives
  • Swelling skin
  • Tingling in the mouth
  • Sudden digestive problems
  • Tightened throat
  • Runny nose
  • Difficulty breathing

The unfortunate thing is that peanut allergies are the most common cause of anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction that causes a swollen throat, shock, rapid pulse, dizziness, and constricted airways. This can be deadly, so it needs to be addressed as soon as possible if it occurs.

Learning How To Avoid Peanuts

Beyond no longer eating or cooking with peanuts, there are a few other things you need to do to avoid falling victim to late on-set peanut allergies. First of all, you need to start paying better attention to your food labels. Most people ignore the “allergy” section, but this label will let you know if any of the eight major allergens (milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, nuts, peanuts, wheat, or soybeans) are used. It will also let you know if the items were processed in a factory that produces peanuts, as cross-contamination between these foods is possible.

If you cook with peanut oil (a popular variety due to the smokiness is adds to fried food), you need to switch to an alternative, such as vegetable oil, cottonseed oil, sesame oil, butter, lard, or vegetable shortening. The last three are fairly high in bad cholesterol, though, so it might be a good idea to avoid those as you age.

Developing a food allergy later in life doesn’t have to derail your life. It’s possible to recover from them to live a very comfortable and happy life as you age. If you are concerned about peanut allergies and how they could develop into a worse condition, contact an allergy expert to learn more.