A food allergy is a reaction of the immune system to a particular food that can result in several symptoms, such as digestive problems or swollen airways. If the allergy is severe, a reaction can be life-threatening for the victim.
According to Aging and Disease, food allergies can occur in all ages but may remain underdiagnosed in the elderly. Age-related changes have negative impacts on the immune system, which leaves elderly patients at a higher risk for these types of allergies. The journal further states that the most frequent foods leading to allergic responses in the elderly are fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, and shellfish.
If a nursing home patient suffers from a food allergy, the staff has the responsibility to adhere to the dietary needs of the resident in all circumstances. Exposing an elderly nursing home resident to a food allergen can have disastrous and potentially fatal consequences and must be avoided at all costs.
Signs and Symptoms of a Food Allergy
Seeing your loved one suffer an allergic food reaction can be frightening. According to Mayo Clinic, some of the signs and symptoms of a food allergy can include:
- Tingling or itching inside of the mouth.
- Swelling of the throat, lips, or tongue.
- Trouble breathing
- Abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.
There can be other symptoms of food allergy, and they can vary from person to person.
It can be particularly worrisome when a food allergy triggers anaphylaxis, a severe reaction of the body to the allergen that can cause death if left untreated. If you notice any of the following signs on your loved one, find medical help immediately:
- Constriction of airways and trouble breathing
- A rapid pulse
While it is possible to treat an acute episode of allergy with medication, there is no treatment that can prevent a food allergy other than avoiding the allergen. If your loved one in the nursing home suffers from a food allergy, the staff has the responsibility to keep them safe at all times.
If your loved one suffered a severe reaction such as anaphylaxis or a choking incident causing health damage and incurring medical or hospitalization bills, you could speak to a nursing home lawyer to find out whether you have a case against a nursing home.
Choking Accidents in Nursing Homes
According to Clinical and Translational Allergy, allergies sometimes make their first appearance later in life, afflicting some elderly patients for the first time. Food is usually responsible for choking in the elderly, and there can be a number of causes contributing to choking incidents, such as ill-fitting dentures or trouble swallowing.
If a nursing home patient suffers from a food allergy, they can be at a higher risk of choking accidents with serious and life-threatening consequences. Choking can cause death and long-term damage in the elderly. Aspiration pneumonia, for example, can be a result of choking and inhaling food particles.
Choking on food can also be the sign of an undetected food allergy. A food allergy can constrict airways and make swallowing difficult for an elderly nursing home resident.
Avoiding Food Allergies and Choking in Nursing Homes
A nursing home is responsible for ensuring that the individual dietary needs of all residents are met at all times. The nursing home has the responsibility to ensure that no individual is offered food that they are allergic to. If a nursing home patient suffers from a food allergy, the staff should make sure that the resident does not come into contact with the allergen in order to minimize any health risks, such as anaphylaxis and choking. Not doing so can constitute nursing home neglect, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The consequences of your loved one being given food that they are allergic to can be deadly as well as costly. Choking and anaphylaxis can cause long-lasting damage that requires medical treatments indefinitely, according to Geriatrics (Basel). If the staff served your loved one any food allergens in their nursing home, leading to health damage and medical bills, you could receive compensation.
You may have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit and obtain compensation for any medical bills, transportation cost, and for your loved ones’ pain and suffering, among other damages. If your loved one passed away due to being served food that they were allergic to, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit.
Pintas & Mullins Can Handle Your Case
Nursing home neglect is devastating for the elderly and their families and can have devastating consequences for an elderly person’s health, as well as in mounting medical costs. It can also be shocking to find out that your loved one was helplessly exposed to an allergen with potentially life-threatening consequences.
You do not have to accept this without pursuing legal recourse. Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today for your free consultation to determine if you have a case against a nursing home. You can reach us at (800) 842-6336.