Dietitians and researchers agree that as we age, our immune systems can deteriorate and put us at higher risk for allergies.
Senior citizens are particularly at risk for development of various allergies, often with diminished physical symptoms that can last longer and potentially be more dangerous. Most often in seniors, researchers say, food and other allergies manifest in less dramatic ways and are thus often left untreated.
As many as ten percent of seniors may have a food allergy.
Food Allergy Research and Education estimates that up to ten percent of senior citizens have a food allergy, most of which go undiagnosed. studies have found as many as a quarter (25 percent) of nursing home patients have a food allergy. Most in the field agree that the phenomenon of seniors with food allergies is largely underestimated.
Several factors could be at play, including the decrease in immune system response, lower amounts of stomach acid as we age, and fewer antibodies in the system. Allergic reactions in seniors are generally less likely to produce anaphylaxis and instead often result in skin, gastrointestinal, and respiratory symptoms. The worst will manifest in the cardiovascular system.
Statistically, about 15 percent of all food allergies happen after age 18 and the higher the person's age, the higher the likelihood of severe reactions.