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Can you develop allergies as you get older: Getting allergies as an adult — and what to do about it

Getting allergies as an adult — and what to do about it

If you are an adult who doesn’t suffer from allergies, congratulations!

But don’t celebrate quite yet. Those lovely symptoms – itchy eyes, runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing and coughing – might still be in your future.

Allergies can happen at any age. And experiencing them for the first time as an adult can be downright aggravating.

There are many reasons you might not develop an allergy until adulthood, but the first is very simple.

“You have to have exposure to something to be allergic to it,” said Charles Frey, Jr., DO, an allergist with OSF HealthCare.

Who gets allergies?

For instance, people who live in the Midwest could develop spring allergies to the pollen of the trees that are common in the region – such as elm, oak and maple – but not to queen palm trees, which grow in more tropical climates.

Allergies are maddening – and not just because of the symptoms.

They are unpredictable. You could spend years being exposed to certain pollens before experiencing symptoms.

Allergies cannot be “caught” like a virus such as COVID-19 or the common cold. The ability to develop allergies is inherited.

“Allergies run in families,” Dr Frey said.

So, if one of your parents has a spring tree allergy, you might develop a tree pollen allergy — or not. Instead, you might develop a ragweed allergy that leaves you sneezing in the fall.

And allergies can skip a generation, so even if your parents have no allergy symptoms, you might develop them.

“Probably about 80% of adults with inhalant allergies carry them from childhood,” Dr. Frey said. “But adults can develop allergies at any age. I have seen patients develop new seasonal or perennial allergies in their 50s or 60s.”

What kinds of allergies?

About 20% of the adult population suffers from one or more types of allergies, Dr. Frey said. There are two types of allergic rhinitis, or inhalant allergies — meaning things that people breathe in. Those types are seasonal and perennial.

Seasonal allergies occur only during specific times, especially when certain plants are pollinating. Once the pollination process is completed, allergy symptoms tend to subside.

Dr. Frey outlined the three main allergy “seasons” in the Midwest

  • Trees, which pollinate in April and May
  • Grasses, which pollinate in May, June, and early July
  • Ragweed, which pollinates in late August, September and early October

One misconception people have about most seasonal allergies is that they are allergic to the trees or grasses themselves. That’s not true. The pollen is the allergen. Once the pollen dissipates, it’s fine to be around the grass or the trees. Until next year’s pollen season.

Perennial allergies can occur year-round. These include:

  • Animal dander
  • Dust or dust mites
  • Indoor mold

“Perennial allergies can actually be worse during the winter months because people are indoor more often and windows are closed,” Dr. Frey said.

In addition, outdoor mold can trigger allergy symptoms at wetter times of year.

Treating allergy symptoms

If you begin to experience new symptoms, see an allergist. The allergist can test to pinpoint the kinds of allergies affecting you, and strategize the best treatment plan.

Providers help patients fight allergies in three main ways:

  • Environmental controls, such as keeping windows closed during outdoor mold and pollen seasons, keeping a pet out of sleeping spaces or limiting outdoor time during pollen seasons.
  • Allergy medications, including antihistamines and nasal products. “Allergy medications have the advantage of working fairly quickly,” Dr. Frey said.
  • Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, to build immunity to the allergen over a period of years

Not treating allergy symptoms can be a bad idea. A person with allergies may be more prone to secondary infections. Those include sinus infection or asthma that can develop from severe pet dander allergies.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a specific diet, exercise or supplement to prevent allergies from developing.

“The good news is that leading a healthy lifestyle is both good for you and helps you tolerate conditions like the effects of allergies,” Dr. Frey said. “But simply living a healthy life has no bearing on whether or not you will experience allergy symptoms.”

Last Updated: April 11, 2023

View all posts by Nancy Piccione

Tags: allergies

Categories: Preventive Health

Can You Develop Allergies as an Adult?

While most allergies present themselves during childhood, they are certainly possible to develop as an adult. “It’s not only possible, it’s becoming increasingly common for people to develop allergies in adulthood,” says Juan Ravell, M.D., division chief of allergy and immunology at Hackensack University Medical Center. 

Why Adults Become Allergic

Doctors aren’t 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 aren’t used to fighting off minor invaders or germs, and our bodies can overreact with allergy symptoms.     

Treatment for Allergies in Adults

For allergy symptoms that aren’t too bothersome, you may presume it’s okay to just grin and bear it. But while minor symptoms might seem harmless, they could be signs of more severe allergic reactions in your future. 

“If you notice allergy symptoms coming on shortly after an activity such as eating a certain food, taking a new medicine, petting a cat or mowing the lawn, make an appointment to see your doctor,” says Dr. Ravell. “Your doctor may recommend that you see an allergy specialist and get tested to find out what you’re allergic to.” 

Knowing When An Allergy Is An Emergency

In some people, exposure to certain allergens (substances that cause allergies) such as foods, mediations, insect stings and latex can trigger a severe allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. It is a life-threatening medical emergency that requires immediate medical treatment, including prompt administration of intramuscular epinephrine, and it can be fatal if not treated properly.  

Symptoms of anaphylaxis typically start within a few minutes of encountering the allergen, so it’s important to call 911 or your local emergency number and get to an emergency department as quickly as possible. Serious allergy symptoms that should not be ignored include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting or loss of consciousness.
  • Hives; Itching; flushed, pale or blue skin
  • Swelling of the face, eyes, lips or throat
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea

The best way to avoid having an allergic reaction is to avoid the allergen that’s causing the allergy, if possible. 

“Your doctor will work with you to create a game plan to deal with your allergy,” Dr. Ravell says. “This could include taking steps to avoid certain foods or exposures, carrying an EpiPen, taking medication or getting injections.” 

Next Steps & Resources:

  • Meet our source: Juan Ravell, M.D.
  • To make an appointment with Dr. Ravell or a doctor near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website.

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.

Why does an allergy occur in adults who have not suffered from it before

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  • Why does an allergy occur in adults who have not suffered from it before


What causes a person to develop allergies?

As a child, you could eat kilograms of strawberries without fear of red cheeks, even as a teenager your face remained without a pimple, an allergy to peanuts or eggs sounds like something unreal to you, and you don’t understand how you can not pet a cat . ..

In a word, if you are one of those who think that he is definitely not threatened by allergies, you might be interested in reading this text.

The body’s immune system produces various antibodies to protect against disease. In the case of allergies, the immune system synthesizes immunoglobulin E, also known as IgE. Its excess causes allergy symptoms. IgE is a chemical messenger that travels through cells to convey information about the need for chemical defense against a foreign invader. People with allergies have high levels of IgE against otherwise harmless environmental irritants, such as certain foods, pollen, or pet dander.

There are more people with allergies

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of cases of allergies among adults. For example, if in 2008 0.5% of the adult population had a nut allergy, then in 2017 this figure was already 1.8%.

Many theories to explain the rise in newly diagnosed allergies focus on higher concentrations of air pollutants, a growing population of dust mites, less ventilation in homes and offices, malnutrition, and a sedentary lifestyle. What’s more, even the way you were born can also increase your risk of developing allergies. It has been proven that people who are born by caesarean section do not come into contact with the maternal microbiome, which leads to the predominance of atypical bacteria in them. Over time, these people are more likely to develop some form of allergy.

Another theory related to hygiene suggests that the less bacteria a person is exposed to, the more they may be susceptible to allergic diseases due to inhibition of the natural development of the immune system.

In addition, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, published in 2017, some ethnic groups may also be more susceptible to certain allergic reactions. For example, Caucasians are less likely to be allergic to peanuts and shellfish than Hispanics, Asians, and blacks over 18 years of age.

How does age affect allergies?

The development of some form of allergy in adults is possible regardless of age. Although for some types of allergies, age does matter.

For example, most food reactions that occur in childhood disappear as they grow older. And vice versa – the likelihood of developing certain types of allergies, such as hay fever, increases over the years.

But most people who are diagnosed with allergies as adults have probably had an allergic episode earlier in their lives that they don’t remember. Allergy often develops according to a well-known scenario. Atopic dermatitis appears first, followed by food allergies in infants and children, followed by hay fever symptoms in middle and late childhood. Allergy symptoms may disappear during adolescence, but then return in adulthood.

However, there are people who actually experience the first allergy symptoms as adults. It can be a reaction to anything: pollen, mold, drugs, insect bites, food…

In terms of food, the most common food allergies in adults are peanuts, fish, shellfish (shrimp, crab) and tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, and cashews).

How does an allergy manifest itself in adults?

One US study suggests that adults may be most at risk for intense severe symptoms and anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition. Exercising, asthma, and the use of alcohol and certain medications, including aspirin, increase the likelihood of such a reaction.

Anaphylaxis can occur immediately or sometimes minutes after ingestion of an allergen or insect sting.

In this case, the only effective way to “extinguish” the reaction is adrenaline. In this case, it must be entered immediately. The longer a patient is left untreated, the greater the chance of death. Therefore, patients with a history of anaphylaxis are advised to carry an epinephrine injector with them at all times.

But the most amazing thing about allergies in adults is that they can suddenly appear on things that did not cause any problems yesterday. You may have been in contact with this allergen on a daily basis for many years without any side effects and suddenly feel allergic symptoms.

What factors increase the risk of developing allergies with age?

Factors such as:

· Change of residence;

appearance of a pet;

Allergen exposure threshold reached;

Allergen exposure during a weakened immune system (illness or pregnancy).

As a rule, allergies in adults make themselves felt in the second, third or fourth decade. Further, theoretically, the chances of getting one or another reaction decrease. Although in rare cases, an allergy for the first time can occur much later – at 70, or even at 80 years old.

On the contrary, the severity of allergy symptoms decreases with age. This happens after the age of 50 and is explained by the fact that over time the immune function decreases, so the response to allergens also becomes less pronounced.

However, due to the global trend towards population aging, scientists suggest that over time, the number of allergic reactions may increase among the elderly.

Allergic reactions in the elderly can occur for the following reasons:

Aging at the molecular, cellular and systemic levels.

The aging process affects the functions of the body at the molecular, cellular and systemic levels, due to which the elderly suffer more from chronic inflammatory diseases, and these diseases also accelerate aging.

As a result of the aging of the immune system, the elderly have an increased susceptibility to infectious diseases; in old age, autoimmune diseases, neoplasias, metabolic diseases, osteoporosis, and neurological disorders are more common.

Also, with age, deficiency of such trace elements with important immuno-regulatory functions as iron, zinc and vitamin D begins to be observed more often.

All this can lead to the development of allergic reactions.

Brain aging .

Age-related changes occur in all parts of the body, including the brain. Neurodegenerative diseases, cognitive impairment, depression and poor response to stressors are some of the major neurological problems in the elderly.

Stress releases hormones and other substances, including histamine, leading to allergy symptoms. While stress does not actually cause allergies, it can exacerbate an allergic reaction by increasing the release of histamine. Therefore, stress and allergies reinforce each other.

· Gastrointestinal problems

Another weak point is the digestive tract. Changes in local immune responses here can contribute to the development of food allergies, regardless of age.

This can be caused by certain medications (eg, drugs that suppress stomach acid), alcohol, immunological changes that occur in old age, and chronic diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.

One study conducted among nursing home patients (mean age 77 years) showed that 24.8% of them had specific IgE to food allergens.

Physiological changes in the upper and lower respiratory tract.

These age-related changes can exacerbate nasal congestion, itching, sneezing and rhinorrhea, which are typical symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

For example, nasal mucociliary clearance is the primary innate defense mechanism in the nose and paranasal sinuses. Thanks to him, the mucus secreted into the upper respiratory tract by the goblet cells of the respiratory epithelium and retaining particles from the air, allergens and pathogens, is transported by the flickering cells of the respiratory epithelium to the pharynx, where it is swallowed. But, with age, the time required for this increases significantly, which means a decrease in the function of the respiratory epithelium.

Anatomical changes associated with aging also include damage to the nasal mucosa, ciliary ultrastructural defects such as increased central microtubule disorientation, changes in the proportions of elastic tissues and collagen, and aging of collagen itself. Aging leads to changes in the larynx, an increase in the area of ​​the trachea, a loss of lung capacity by more than 40%.

Allergy symptoms and treatment

Before symptoms begin, the allergen will test our immune system for some time. It may take several years, until one day the body still does not lose tolerance to a particular substance. Symptoms of an allergic reaction can be very different – from a runny nose to the already mentioned severe form – anaphylaxis. In particular, you may experience:

  • runny nose,
  • conjunctivitis,
  • soreness, itching or tickling in the mouth,
  • edema,
  • rash like urticaria,
  • pruritus,
  • abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting
  • palpitations,
  • breathing problems
  • loss of consciousness,
  • shock.

For example, 42% of adults with atopic dermatitis acquired the disease in adulthood. It most often appears on the arms, head, or neck (according to a study published in November 2017 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology).

It is also noteworthy that those who have not previously had allergies in response to certain chemical irritants are more likely to develop non-allergic rhinitis. In this case, nasal congestion, postnasal drip, and other symptoms often associated with allergies may occur. However, these symptoms are caused by irritants (such as odors, dust, cigarette smoke, or detergents), changes in atmospheric pressure, or a certain medication, not an allergen.

Treating allergy symptoms

If you have mild allergy symptoms, such as pollen exposure, you can try antihistamines. If they don’t help, see your family doctor to rule out other conditions and possibly get a referral to an allergist. It can help identify specific triggers, suggest ways to avoid them, and suggest other specific allergy treatments such as ASIT.

If you suspect you have a food allergy, take it seriously as it can be life threatening. If the allergist confirms the diagnosis, it is possible that you will have to constantly avoid the food that provokes the development of symptoms.

Information sources:




4.https://www.webmd.com/all ergies/features/adult-onset-allergies


6. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/can-allergies-go-away-or-develop-as-you-age/amp/

6 8.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5362176/

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Allergies can occur suddenly and even in adulthood

Allergies can occur suddenly and even in adulthood. Myths and reality. Unusual allergens. Can allergies be cured?

Nuts, pollen, pet hair, poplar fluff, ragweed, milk – all these substances cause allergies. According to WHO statistics, the number of allergy sufferers of all ages is growing every year. Every third resident of Moscow, one in four in Berlin, one in six in New York is subject to spring exacerbation. Allergy is the plague of the 21st century. Some facts about this disease will seem surprising to you.

What you need to know about allergies

Despite the fact that scientists have been studying this “phenomenon” for a long time, there are not very many reliable facts about it. Every year, new forms and factors of allergens appear. Experts say that allergies are a consequence of a gastrointestinal disease. Problems with the gastrointestinal tract at times increase the possibility of allergies. An allergic reaction is a malfunction in the body’s immune system, that is, its reaction to a substance recognized as hostile.

Allergies are hereditary. If one of the parents is allergic, then it is more likely that the child will inherit this disease.

Rural residents are much less likely to experience allergic reactions than city dwellers.

Cross allergens exist. If an allergic reaction to cow’s milk, then similar manifestations can be on beef meat, dairy products, wool. Among the twin allergens are also: eggs – chicken meat, fish – seafood, honey – pollen.

The most dangerous allergen is peanuts. An allergic reaction to this product affects more than 2% of the world’s population. Upon contact with this allergen, up to 20% of cases are fatal.

Food intolerances are often confused with allergies. These are two different concepts. To identify the cause, it is necessary to undergo an examination. It is very difficult to establish an allergen, this requires a thorough laboratory study.

The main manifestations of an allergic reaction: skin rashes, itchy nose, runny nose, asthma. The most dangerous, life-threatening is Quincke’s edema.

Myths and reality

Paper tissues, perfumes, cigarette smoke are not allergens. We are talking about chemical irritation.

Allergies do not go away on their own. Comprehensive treatment and exclusion of exposure to allergens is required.

Alcohol does not cause, but enhances an already existing allergic reaction.

Is headache a sign of an allergic reaction? It all depends on the intensity and nature of pain. With allergies, the degree of the disease does not decrease over the years and the pain may be wandering.

Unusual allergens

There are examples of unusual allergic reactions all over the world. Fortunately, these are isolated cases. But they are. We provide a list of the most unusual allergens:

· Paper money. The cause was paint components and nickel.

Electricity. In Sweden, “electricity allergy” is recognized as an official disease.