Dealing with late-onset food, environmental allergies as an adult


by Mia Gradney/ KHOU 11 News

Posted on August 2, 2012 at 10:38 AM

Updated Thursday, Aug 2 at 10:45 AM

HOUSTON—Food isn’t everyone’s friend; especially when certain foods could possibly be fatal to you later in life. There’s a new medical phenomenon among adults with severe late onset food and environmental allergies.

Monika Ramos, a 64-year-old retired teacher, reaches only for a few select items from her pantry when it’s meal time. Over the past decade she’s had to learn to eat and live differently.
“I was down to apples, oranges, grapefruits, bananas,” she said.
Ramos suffers with several food environmental allergies that didn’t arise until her early fifties. Often, they have been bad enough to trigger life-threatening reactions. 
“When you’re standing and you can’t breathe, it’s frightening,” Ramos said.
Dr. David Amran, a physician who specializes in allergies and immunology at the Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, helped Ramos by diagnosing the worst of her problems. 
“The key is getting a very detailed history and going into this issue like a detective and going step by step; looking at the time of ingestion,” Dr. Amran said. “What type of symptoms are there?” 
Ramos’ main aversion is to soy which is found in many food products. The most common adult food allergies are tree nuts and shellfish.
“The only nuts in my house are hazelnuts,” Ramos said.
From soy, to dairy products and seafood, Dr. Amran has a few theories as to why patients develop severe allergies later in life. He suspects in some cases the patient always had the allergy, but it was dormant. 
“They surface later in life, in the right period of time, or when there was a weakness in the immune system,” Dr. Amran explained.
Hormones, pregnancy and an aging immune system can be triggers. 
As for Ramos, she’s not so worried about the past as much as what food she may—or may not—tolerate in the future.