Food allergies are reactions by the immune system to a particular food or group of foods. Most food allergies are diagnosed in children, and many children outgrow their allergies by the time they become adults. Adults can also develop new food allergies later in life. The foods that adults are allergic to tend to be different from those that cause allergies in children. Here are the most common foods allergies for adults in the United States.
• Shellfish – Shellfish allergies tend to develop later in life, rather than during childhood. Shellfish is the most common food allergy for adults with approximately 2 percent of adults in the U.S. having this condition. Shellfish allergies tend to be severe and last for the rest of your life. Shellfish allergies fall into two groups – crustaceans (lobsters, shrimp, and crawfish) or mollusks (clams, oysters, and mussels). Some people develop an allergy to one group or the other while other people are allergic to both groups.
• Peanuts - This is the second highest allergy among adults with just over one-half of one percent (.06 percent) of people reporting that they have this allergy. Peanut allergy rates appear to be approximately the same among adults as they were 10 years ago. Peanut allergies tend to cause severe reactions and are more likely than other allergies to cause anaphylactic reactions that can stop breathing. Most people with peanut allergies have the allergy for the rest of their lives. People who have peanut allergies are also prone to have tree nut allergies.
• Tree nuts – One-half of one percent (.05 percent) of people report that they are allergic to tree nuts. This number seems to be climbing, especially among adults. Tree nuts tend to cause severe reactions including anaphylactic reactions that can make breathing difficult. Some people are allergic to just one kind of tree nut, such as almonds, while others are allergic to multiple tree nuts as well as peanuts.
• Fish – Just less than one-half of one percent (.04 percent) of U.S. adults are allergic to fish.