Food Allergies That Develop In Adulthood Can Be Severe

CHICAGO (CBS) — About 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, and 3 percent of those are allergies to food.

There’s a lot of information about children with food allergies, but as CBS 2’s Mary Kay Kleist reports, those allergies can develop in adulthood, and can be very severe.

Donna Floridia’s daughter, Faith, “was living her dream at the time that she lost her life.”

Faith Floridia was just 20 years old. She was a student, a dancer and working as a waitress when she began having difficulty breathing. Her throat closed, and she went into anaphylactic shock.

“They felt it was the shrimp and crab meat she was eating,” Donna Floridia said. “I said, ‘We constantly ate shrimp how could this be?’ They said she had a sudden onset of allergies.”

Faith died a week later.

Most people don’t have such a severe reaction, but allergies can develop in adults of really any age.

“And they’re a little bit unpredictable,” said Dr. Laura Rogers, an allergy specialist in Chicago.

She says family history makes you more susceptible to developing allergies.

“If you personally have a history of other kinds of allergies, hay fever allergies or animal dander like cat allergies, you’re also at higher risk for developing other kinds of allergies such as food allergies,” Rogers said.

A severe allergy attack came out of nowhere two years ago for Gabriela Zapata-Alma.

“After dinner I had a spoonful of peanut butter, which was pretty normal for me,” she said. “And I went to bed.”

But then she woke up suddenly.

Zapata-Alma said, “I was having trouble breathing. And I was having chest pains, and so I couldn’t quite figure out what was going on with my body.”

She went to the emergency room, and eventually found Dr. Rogers. And after a series of tests, they determined she was now allergic to peanuts.

She carries an epi pen, a syringe of epinephrine to inject in case she suffers another severe reaction.

“It could have been a fatal reaction, to be honest,” Dr. Rogers said. “But most allergic reactions do not result in fatality, but with that small chance, you don’t want to take the risk.”

Common adult allergy symptoms include chronic runny nose, a post nasal drip that causes you to clear your throat a lot, nasal congestion, sinus pain, itchy watery eyes, and an overwhelming sense of fatigue.

Faith Floridia’s mother is now making it her mission to inform others about symptoms, so no one else will suffer the same tragic fate as her daughter.

“I was able to have peace and to let her go,” she said.

It’s more common for an adult woman to develop food allergy than a man.

The foods that most often trigger a reaction for adults: shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts and eggs.

  • Jon K. Evans

    Everything that this report stated, I can personally corroborate. On Easter 1976, I started experiencing exactly the symptoms that were described in the HealthWatch piece. I thought it was a cold. Then, I drove to the Olympics in Canada, and was stung by a bee. When I started getting hives later, I thought that the sting that caused the attacks later-even in Late Fall 76. I’d get worse and my father swore that it was simply “my nerves” 10 years later, I had another series of attacks that caused my head to swell the size of a basketball. Wouldn’t you agree that my symptoms were unusual-for a man?

  • Food Allergies That Develop In Adulthood Can Be Severe « CBS … | Food News

    […] here: Food Allergies That Develop In Adulthood Can Be Severe « CBS … This entry was posted in Blog Search and tagged allergies, americans, food, million, percent, […]

  • Chicago News Stories for Feb 29 2012 : Travel tips, hotels, restaurants, jobs and news | Travel 2 Chicago

    […] are done voting in the GOP primary, maybe now the men running for president will move on beyond sex?Food Allergies That Develop In Adulthood Can Be SevereAbout 50 million Americans suffer from allergies, and 3 percent of those are allergies to food. […]

  • Food Allergy | Pappu-Man (The New Super-Hero)

    […] Food Allergies That Develop In Adulthood Can Be Severe ( […]

  • ROAR! | Will's Kitchen

    […] Food allergies can develop at any age — I found out I was allergic to shellfish when I was 25, here is a scary story about a fatal reaction. […]

blog comments powered by Disqus
Daily Weather Reports Delivered To You!SIGN UP NOW: Get daily weather reports every morning from meteorologist Steve Baskerville!
CBS Sports Radio RoundupGet your latest sports talk from across the country.

Listen Live