Developing Allergies During Your Teenage Years

Developing allergies later in life can be a difficult adjustment, but is doable!

Developing allergies later in life can be a difficult adjustment, but it’s doable!

Most people are diagnosed with allergies at a very young age, but for some people they are developed unexpectedly later in life. I was diagnosed at age thirteen with allergies to strawberries, pineapple, cashew and coconut. These were foods that I had eaten all my life and had never imagined I would be allergic to. Before I even had time to process this new change in my life, I was thrown into a world of auto-injectors, reading food labels and everything else that comes along with having food allergies.

I will admit that at age thirteen and going into high school, I was not interested in being different than my peers. I was in denial about having allergies and didn’t want to accept the fact that this was just something I had to deal with. I felt alone and didn’t realize that there were so many other people going through the same things. In the beginning, I often left my auto-injectors at home because I just wouldn’t take responsibility and face the fact that I had allergies. But, what I didn’t realize was that there is a whole community of people who have allergies and have been through the same things. Through research and support from my friends and family, I was able to adapt to having allergies. At first I though my life would completely change and I wouldn’t be able to do the same things as I had before, but with a little effort and determination I can! My life is just like everyone else’s, I have a job, I am going to go to university, and I am social with friends and much more!

Always remember that you are not alone! The best thing you can do when you are first diagnosed with allergies is to find support. Look online to see if your city has a support group where you can meet other people who are experiencing the same things. Joining Anaphylaxis Canada’s Youth Advisory Panel (YAP) has really helped me to meet people and share my experiences. Another great tip is to express how you are feeling and turn your negative situations into positive ones by helping others! Start a blog about your life with allergies and let others know any tips or tricks you have for living with allergies! Developing allergies when your older can be tricky at first, but it makes you a lot stronger! Always stay positive and remember that there are people who understand and support you.

Anaphylaxis Canada's Youth Advisory Panel

Join Anaphylaxis Canada’s Youth Advisory Panel to meet other youth with food allergies.

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Growing into my Allergy

When I was nine, I had my first skin test. My brother was allergic to peanuts and tree nuts and I was not. I never thought I would grow into an allergy. I never knew you could grow into an allergy. The skin test was inconclusive.

“What does inconclusive even mean?”
“It means we are taking you to the hospital to get an oral challenge. It involves a doctor giving you small amounts of peanut butter to see if you react.”
“…I don’t like where this is going, Doc…”

Obviously, I didn’t speak like that when I was nine, but it’s definitely along the lines of how I felt. Long story short, after a few small doses, I had a reaction once I got to a full teaspoon of peanut butter, thus labelling me as “ALLERGIC!”

At the very beginning I did not like having a peanut/tree nut allergy. At the time, an allergy seemed very negative to me after seeing my brother endure years of avoiding the things I loved. All the good foods had nuts. All the restaurants had nuts. No one could guarantee anything and my life was confined to homemade meals. However It wasn’t long until I slowly found out that allergies aren’t so bad. Safe homemade goodies were amazing and at every birthday party I went to, my mom secretly sent along a special safe piece of cake for me! My cake was always better than the birthday boy/girl’s cake. Always!

My mom's special & safe birthday cakes were the best!

My mom’s special & safe birthday cakes were the best!

Looking at my allergy now, I’m actually pretty thankful. I learned how to become more independent, I learned how to cook food, and I eat way healthier by avoiding most desserts, pastries, chocolates etc. that contain or may contain nuts! My advice to people newly diagnosed with allergies:

An allergy is a blessing in disguise. It keeps you on your toes, it teaches you a lot of life skills and there is always a delicious allergen-free food waiting around the corner. Just be patient, cautious, and spread awareness to those around you!

Diagnosed with Allergies as a Teenager

Hi! My name is Sydney. I am allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, but unlike most people with allergies, I was diagnosed with my allergies as a teenager.

Personally, I think it has worked out very well being diagnosed so late in life. Ever since I found out about my allergies, I have been able to advocate for myself rather than rely on my parents for support. Unfortunately, most people are not very familiar with allergies that develop in teenage years so a lot of my friends and even my family had a hard time coming to terms with this new way of life. In terms of get togethers with my other family members like cousins and grandparents, they tend to forget about my allergies so repetition is key. I think it is just because they are not used to having nut-free food around.

Although I am happy that I did not have to avoid nuts in childhood, I still remember what they taste like which sometimes results in cravings. I find though that as time goes on, it eventually becomes easier and easier as I embrace learning to eat safely with my allergies.