It's widely assumed that food allergies make themselves known during childhood and may even dissipate into adulthood. But as Self notes, food allergy symptoms can appear at any age, and can even develop in reaction to foods you've eaten safely for years.
"People are really shocked that they've eaten shrimp forever and then find out they have an allergy," said allergist Neeta Ogden, MD, a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, to the magazine. "But food allergies are just like any medical condition—something decides to go haywire."
With that said, it's important to differentiate between food allergies and food intolerances, which are more difficult to spot. Unlike allergies, which can trigger a life-threatening response that requires immediate medical attention, intolerances typically result in more innocuous symptoms like abdominal discomfort, constipation, headaches, fatigue, skin issues, unexplained weight loss or gain, brain fog, depression, and bloating. For example, those who suffer from a gluten intolerance may go years without realizing that the subtle symptoms they experience after eating gluten are actually a sign of a food intolerance.
A serious food allergy, on the other hand, will likely manifest as hives, lips, tongue and throat swelling, itchiness, shortness of breath, coughing, vomiting, a rash, and even a life-threatening reaction called anaphylactic shock. In that case, you will know that you've developed some sort of allergy and should speak with your doctor about getting an EpiPen after receiving immediate treatment. "See an allergist immediately," adds Ogden. "You should never wait."
Head over to Self for more.