With Allergies Week among us, we have decided to look into certain allergies than can affect many people, including the elderly.
Allergies and intolerances to certain foods can develop at any time in your life no matter how old you are. Although most allergies do start in childhood and can often disappear in adolescence, they can return as an adult and stay permanently.
You may have spent many years enjoying a certain food and now more recently, you have found yourself feeling uncomfortable after eating them and developing symptoms similar to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). Unfortunately, there is no clear reason as to why allergies develop but they can be managed.
Food allergies and intolerances can often be confused with each other. Both are a reaction caused by food but an allergic reaction causes your whole immune system to respond dramatically. Whether it is a rash, swelling, trouble breathing or anaphylactic shock, any amount of a certain food can cause these allergic reactions.
Intolerance has very different reactions and usually not life threatening in any way. Consuming milk, soya, wheat and certain additives to foods can cause digestive discomfort for many people and the effects are usually gradual rather than sudden. Feeling bloated, stomach cramps, nausea and headaches are just some of the common symptoms experienced by those with lactose, dairy and wheat intolerance but these can be managed by just making some swaps.
If you are lactose intolerant, which is intolerance to the sugars found in dairy, there are lactose-free products available in most supermarkets. Cheeses, milk, creams and yoghurts have been developed especially for people with lactose intolerance and still contain calcium and vitamins found in dairy products. Lots of foods contain lactose and dairy including crisps, olive oil spreads and some sausages so always check the label before purchasing.
If you have recently found out that you have wheat intolerance, or you are sensitive to gluten which is the protein found in wheat and various other grains, you may be feeling a little bit lost and confused about what you can and cannot eat. There are more foods than you think that contain wheat such as pasta, breakfast cereals, tinned soups and some yoghurts too. If you are struggling to pick the right foods for your diet or you are not sure what you can and cannot eat, speak to your GP or search for specialised gluten-free substitutes in your supermarket.
If you have had experienced any reactions to foods or you think you may have an allergy, speak with your GP and they can conduct a simple test to determine what allergy you have and how to manage it.