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Adult Food Allergies Can Have Serious Consequences

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Most food allergies become obvious to patients before the age of ten, but doctors say adults can also have sudden reactions to food they've eaten for years, and ignoring the symptoms can have devastating consequences.

Donna Floridia's daughter, Faith, was 20 years old, a student and a dancer when she suddenly began having difficulty breathing.  Her throat closed and she went into anaphylactic shock.

"They had her on life support and the question was what could this be?" Floridia recalled. "(Doctors) said it was the shrimp and crabmeat she was eating.

Faith died a week later from a food allergy that seemed to come out of nowhere.

"Any food allergy fatality is what I consider almost always an avoidable tragedy," said Dr. Robert Sugerman of Medical City Dallas.  He was not involved in Faith Floridia's case, but has seen adult patients who were perplexed when they seemed to develop new allergies late in life.

"Sometimes we'll see adults with no allergies in childhood come in with respiratory allergies or asthma and rarely a new food allergy," said Dr. Sugerman.

Johanna Trump began to have problems with common foods once she became an adult.

"When I was eating apples, I couldn't stop salivating," said Trump, "I had this pain up by my ear, and I was itching around my mouth."

After a series of tests, Trump's doctor determined she was allergic to a variety of foods.   Now she pays close attention to her symptoms.

"The first time you have a reaction you'll observe some type swelling around the mouth or throat, gastro-intestinal system with nausea, cramping or vomiting, and it's rare that those symptoms would escape your notice more than one time." said Dr. Sugerman.  He adds that some patients may be more likely to ignore those symptoms when they are caused by a favorite food.

Faith Floridia's mother wants her daughter's story serves as a warning, and hopes adults who notice these types of symptoms will seek medical help.

For people want to learn more on this topic, Dr. Sugerman recommends these web sites.

For more information on food allergies:

And to find a board certified doctor:

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