How Allergies Develop In Adulthood
Most people typically develop allergy symptoms at a young age, outgrow their allergies, and become tolerant around their 20s or 30s. But its possible to develop an allergy or become allergic to something at any point in your lifetime. There isnt clear reasoning as to why or how allergies develop in adulthood. Still, researchers believe that having one severe allergic reaction or symptoms during childhood can increase your chances of developing allergies as an adult.
Other possible triggers for adult-onset allergies include:
- If you had a skin condition, like eczema, as a child
- If you had a small exposure to an allergen as a child
- If you relocated to a new location or workplace with new allergens
- If you have a reduced immune system function and you come into contact with allergens
- If you have a pet for the first time
Are These Symptoms Allergies
If you believe you have developed allergies, the first thing you can try is over-the-counter antihistamines to help control your symptoms. It is also a good idea to avoid the things you believe you are allergic to until you can be seen by an allergist.
An allergist can perform allergy testing to determine if you have allergies and exactly what is triggering your allergy symptoms. If testing confirms you have allergies, you can work with your doctor to develop a personalized treatment plan.
Why Do Allergies Develop In Adulthood
Doctors and scientists dont really know what triggers allergies, no matter when in life they develop
Allergies are caused when the body determines that a substance, whether its pollen or peanuts or dust mites, is harmful and attacks its presence. The allergen stimulates a response in the body that leads to the symptoms that come along with an allergic reaction, including sneezing, hives, and breathing problems.
While we dont really know what causes allergies, scientists have seen an increase in hay fever and other environmental allergies in recent years. There are two theories as to why this is happening:
Higher concentrations of allergens due to decreased ventilation in homes and offices and a sedentary lifestyle
Increased cleanliness and sanitation leading to decreased exposure to potential allergens
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Mayo Clinic Q And A: Reasons For Developing Allergies Later In Life Not Always Clear
DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I didnt have allergies when I was younger. But now in my 40s, I seem to get allergy symptoms during the spring and summer. Is it possible to develop allergies as an adult? Should I get tested? If so, what do allergy tests involve?
ANSWER: You can develop allergies later in life, and there is definitely value in getting tested to see if your symptoms are due to allergies. If they are, the test results will give you information about what youre allergic to and help guide you as you decide on treatment. Allergy tests usually involve a skin test, a blood test or both.
Allergy development typically has two phases. During the first phase, called sensitization, you come in contact with a harmless substance, and your body mistakenly starts making allergic antibodies, called IgE antibodies, to fight that substance. Those antibodies dont do anything until you are exposed to the substance, or allergen, again. At that time, the second phase starts. The allergen binds to the IgE antibodies. That sets off a cascade of immune reactions in your body, such as itchy or watery eyes, nasal congestion and sneezing, among others.
If, as in your situation, allergy symptoms develop but you arent sure what you might be allergic to, or even if your symptoms really are allergies, it is worthwhile to go through allergy testing. The tests can show what you are sensitive to, and knowing that can go a long way to customizing treatment to your specific situation.
Can I Develop Allergies As An Adult
After years of uninterrupted enjoyment of spring weather, or digging into that gorgeous green kiwi, youve noticed things arent quite so smooth sailing. Your eyes and throat itch, youre coughing and sneezing, and hives are popping up all over your arms.
It cant be allergies, you think. Youre a grown adult whos never had problems with allergic reactions before, so youre in the clear. Or are you?
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How To Handle Allergies
If you start to show symptoms of an allergy, it is important to consult your healthcare provider. Blood and skin testing can confirm your diagnosis so that you can learn how to safely handle your allergies. Once your allergies are diagnosed, a change in diet, allergy shots or medications may help to alleviate symptoms.
So despite your age, be sure not to ignore any new reaction you might have to a food or substance. By paying close attention to this reaction, and determining its cause, you will be better prepared to eat safely and avoid further reactions.
Why Adults Become Allergic
Doctors arent exactly sure why people develop allergies beyond childhood, but it may have to do with several factors:
- An aging population. As more people are living longer in the U.S., allergies in adults are becoming more prevalent, according to the medical journal Aging and Disease. As we age, our immune system becomes weaker over time and we are more susceptible to illness, including allergies.
- A changing environment. Climate change is causing the planet to get warmer, which causes flowers to bloom earlier and pollen season to become longer by several weeks, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. There are higher amounts of pollen and mold in our atmosphere, which may cause people who never had allergies to develop symptoms.
- Hypervigilant focus on cleanliness. In the last few decades,we have become increasingly preoccupied with hygiene. The pandemic has only increased our awareness of germs. We use antibacterial soaps, alcohol-based hand sanitizers and bleach for wiping down surfaces. As a result, our immune systems arent used to fighting off minor invaders or germs, and our bodies can overreact with allergy symptoms.
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How Are Allergies Treated
The first step is to avoid the things you are allergic to and try over-the-counter antihistamines. If that doesnt work, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following options:
- Prescription antihistamines Most antihistamines are now over the counter, but some are still only available by prescription.
- Nasal sprays Medications that reduce the swelling in your nose, which cause a stuffy, runny, and itchy nose.
- Inhalers Medications inhaled into the lungs that open your airways. Inhalers can include daily use or rescue inhalers used for immediate symptom relief.
- Allergy injections or immunotherapy A series of injections to desensitize your immune system to the allergens which trigger your symptoms. The goal of the treatment is to retrain the immune system to recognize the allergen as not dangerous, decreasing the frequency or severity of allergy symptoms.
Allergies can be unpleasant no matter how old you are, but your doctor can help you determine what is triggering your allergies and develop a treatment plan that works for you.
Take Our Allergy Assessment
If you have allergies and want them to get better, sublingual immunotherapy might be the best solution for you. By training your system to stop reacting to what youre allergic to, you can experience long-term allergy relief!
Get started today by taking our 2-minute online assessment and start your journey to a life free from allergy symptoms!
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What Will Happen If Allergies Are Not Treated
Untreated allergies can result in other complications in the body. For example, if allergic rhinitis is left untreated for a very long time, it can result in ear infections and sinus infections due to swelling and inflammation. Untreated allergies can provide a perfect breeding place for bacteria to grow and cause such infections. Untreated allergies can also worsen other conditions, such as skin disorders, inflammation in the body and asthma.
Testing For Adult Allergies
If you think you have an allergy, its best to see a professional for a definitive diagnosis. A healthcare provider or allergist may perform some tests to confirm your allergy and help you figure out a plan to prevent and treat symptoms.
Your healthcare provider may be able to diagnose your allergies based on symptoms alone. If you have typical seasonal allergy symptoms like sneezing or a runny nose at certain times of the year, that may be enough information. In some cases, though, healthcare providers order other diagnostic tests, like a skin test, to help confirm which allergen is causing the reaction. Allergists and other providers may also recommend blood tests or different kinds of lab work to confirm specific allergies.
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Allergies Are More Likely To Develop Than Disappear
There are some people who have enjoyed springtime for many years and then, for whatever reason, the month of May hits, and their nose starts to run. Allergic reactions can ruin the springtime for those who have them by making them feel miserable.
Over time, you may lose your tolerance against pollen, pet dander, and other allergens. The immune system fluctuates all the time, and allergies can change. While growing out of an allergy sounds nice, but the reality is that for most people allergies are more likely to develop than disappear. They can decrease in severity, or reactions may happen less often as time goes on, but most allergy sufferers will remain susceptible.
Taking steps to build immunity, getting rid of the allergen from your environment as much as possible, and focusing on keeping your overall health at its best are all good ways to help minimize your allergic reaction.
Unraveling The Adult Allergy Mystery
Researchers dont know exactly what causes the body to react to an allergen after many years of uneventful contact with it. Many times, Davis says, something in the patients environment has changed that causes them to be exposed to a substance that they did not previously come into contact with very often.
Say someone has a tendency toward allergies for example, a person might get married and their spouse has cats, Davis says. Cat dander is a very, very strong allergen. If youve never had indoor exposure to cats, its very possible for you to develop an allergy to them. Another example is moving to a new state, where more allergens like ragweed and cedar pollen may be present in the air, and suddenly you develop seasonal allergy symptoms.
One theory scientists have about allergy causes is called the hygiene hypothesis, which suggests that the highly clean environments of most Westerners can cause their immune systems to overreact to harmless things like pet dander and peanuts. However, there is not enough scientific evidence in existence yet to use this theory as a basis for prevention or treatment of allergies.
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Brain Aging And The Stress Response
Age-related changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain. Damage by free radicals and inflammation increase and changes in neurotransmitters affect communication between neurons. Neuro-degenerative diseases, cognitive impairment, depression and poor compliance to stressors are among the major neurological findings in the elderly.
Stress releases hormones and other molecules, including histamine, leading to allergy symptoms. While stress is not actually cause of allergies, it can make an allergic reaction worse by increasing histamine release. Therefore, stress and allergies mutually reinforcing. Aging is considered the consequence of the lifelong accumulation of the effects of stressors such as physical , metabolic and immunological agents, which the body becomes unable to counteract, leading to tissue damage, chronic inflammation and possibly occurrence of allergies .
How Allergies Change And Develop Over Time
Were not born with allergies, but some people can be more prone to them, and families can share genetic factors that make them more likely to develop allergies to environmental elements, chemicals or foods. Whats more, allergies tend to develop in kids because children are exposed to a lot of outside stimuli for the first time.
Some allergies take longer to fully develop, so they may appear later in life. If we change environments, like move to a different home or office, a different state or country, its possible that our allergies will adapt to our new surroundings. Environmental allergens that existed in one place may not exist in another.
Your immune system is also constantly changing and adapting, so new allergies and intolerances can develop as your body changes.
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Know What Youre Dealing With
The most common allergies in adulthood are:
Roughly 40% of people who develop allergies in adulthood develop food allergies. If youre one of them, you must take steps to avoid the food that youre allergic to. Adjust your lifestyle, read food labels, carefully check menus, and be careful at social gatherings where food is served.
Is It Food Intolerance Or Are You Just Getting Older
Our bodies like to remind us that we arent as young as we used to be. The good news is that our digestive systems arent affected by aging as much as the other parts of us . The bad news is that we cant abuse our stomachs like we used to if we want to maintain the pleasure of eating. Does this mean that we have developed food intolerance? Not necessarily. To see why, lets first look at the normal gastrointestinal signs of getting older, along with some age-related complications.
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Late Onset Allergies Dermatitis And Asthma In The Elderly
03/02/2013 by Ruth Holroyd
Youve all seen the statistics about the rise in the number people with allergies but we tend think of young children as the most at risk. However there are a growing number of people who find that after a completely allergy free life they suddenly, in their late 70s, 80s or even 90s develop allergies, eczema, psoriasis or asthma.
Why is this happening? There could be a number of reasons. The slowing down of life, less movement and exercise, giving up work, perhaps losing your life partner which will cause stress and anxiety, maybe with age the body just loses some function or ability to recognise foods Whatever it is it can be a bit of a shock when suddenly you cant eat your favourite sandwich filler, can no longer rely on an egg for a quick easy meal or cannot easily order meals-on-wheels because they all contain something that makes you sick.
Consider also that many of our aging population are finding themselves isolated in communities with fewer bus services they cant just nip to their local health food shop or suddenly grasp internet shopping to find foods suitable for them. Many of them probably also dont have the money to buy the more expensive gluten free bread nor the energy to hunt around for suitable foods minus their new allergy.
They probably cant even read the tiny print on food labels to tell whats suitable anyway! If Im honest I struggle myself sometimes.
Treating Seasonal Allergy Symptoms: Medications That Help
The third option is to see an allergist for allergy shots . You typically stay on that treatment for three to five years. If your symptoms arent being controlled with medications, seeing an allergist for allergy testing and allergy shots is the next step. Oral allergy drops are a newer form of allergen desensitization that people can try for certain allergens .
If your allergy is life-threatening, you may need to carry around a special medication called epinephrine . If you experience anaphylaxis, immediately injecting a dose of epinephrine can save your life.
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How Common Are Adult Allergies
Allergies are the sixth-leading cause of chronic illness in the United States. Doctors dont know exactly how many adults are diagnosed with allergies for the first time each year. But nasal allergies affect more Americans every year, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
Allergies are caused when your immune system overreacts to an allergen. Your body releases histamine as it thinks the allergen might be harmful, and it does so in order to help ‘fight’ the allergen, causing respiratory symptoms, red and watery eyes, and more. Nearly 20 million adults in the United States have allergic rhinitis, which is commonly known as hay fever.
Will My Allergies Go Away With Age
As a child, you may have had a certain allergy, only to find later that the symptoms you experienced were minimal, if even present, when you grew older. That said, however, should you develop an allergy as an adult, it is likely that you will have that allergy for the rest of your life.
Allergies can be very unpredictable, but the service you receive from Glatz Group is ever-reliable, especially during these uncertain times. Certified physician assistant Jonathan Lerma and the trusted team of sinus relief specialists want to address this question just in case youve wondered about your own allergies but cannot visit us to ask because of the shelter-in-place.
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What Causes A Person To Develop Allergies
Allergies can come in many shapes and sizes. While some people can enjoy beautiful weather, others avoid going outdoors at all costs. The same situation may occur for people watching others enjoy an endless variety of foods while they must be very selective. Those people who suffer from the incessant symptoms of food or environmental allergies may wonder, why?
Have you ever wondered what causes your stuffy nose and sneezing? Its not just a string of bad luck whether your allergy symptoms occur in direct result to the local pollen count, different types of food or your neighbors cat, there are certain responses from our immune system that lead to our level of reaction.
In this article, well explain exactly what causes a person to develop allergies, when this can happen, and whether allergic symptoms are worse in adulthood or childhood.