Sudden allergies: Suddenly Have Allergies As An Adult? Here’s What You Need To Know | Henry Ford Health
Suddenly Have Allergies As An Adult? Here’s What You Need To Know | Henry Ford Health
Are you suddenly sneezing on a spring day after never having allergies as a child? Have you always loved peanut butter but now break out in hives with even a small taste? According to Rana Misiak, M.D., an allergist at Henry Ford Health, it’s not unusual for adults to develop new allergies.
“Seasonal and food allergies can start and stop at any time during your life,” says Dr. Misiak. “The good news is that there are a variety of effective strategies and treatments to relieve allergy symptoms, allowing you to enjoy your daily activities.”
Here, Dr. Misiak discusses symptoms, diagnostic tests, and treatments for seasonal, environmental and food allergies.
Sneezing? Are Seasonal Allergies The Cause Or Is It Something Else?
Approximately 10-40% of Americans have seasonal allergies or hay fever. These allergies can affect anyone at any time, regardless of age, gender, race or ethnicity. Each time you’re exposed to an allergen, your immune system triggers a cascade of responses. Allergies can interfere with your work, school and other daily activities as you experience symptoms like nasal congestion, sneezing and watery or itchy eyes.
Some common culprits causing seasonal allergies include:
If you have allergy symptoms year-round, you could be reacting to environmental allergens such as:
- Pet dander
Or you may be reacting to an irritant. Irritants can produce allergy-like reactions, but they aren’t allergens. Common irritants include:
- Perfumes or strong scents
- Chilly air
- Changes in weather
Wondering why you’re reacting to one or more of these allergens or irritants for the first time as an adult? “We don’t always know why these reactions appear. In some cases, we can trace them to a change in your environment,” says Dr. Misiak.
For example, you may have moved to a new area where you’re now exposed to plants and trees you haven’t encountered before. If you’re spending more time working at home during the pandemic, you may have been exposed to dust mites. Maybe you added a furry friend to your family, and you’re now surrounded by pet dander.
How Are Seasonal And Environmental Allergies Diagnosed And Treated?
If your symptoms are affecting your quality of life, Dr. Misiak recommends seeing your physician or an allergist for a full evaluation. Your doctor can identify whether your symptoms are due to seasonal allergies, the flu or a virus like COVID-19.
You may have one of these tests to diagnose seasonal and environmental allergies:
- Scratch test: With this test, a small needle containing a specific allergen scratches the skin of your arm or back. If your skin is red or swollen after 15 to 20 minutes, you’re reacting to that allergen.
- Blood test: This test analyzes a blood sample for the presence of immunoglobulin E (IgE), antibodies linked to specific allergens.
A negative allergy test doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about symptoms you might be experiencing, says Dr. Misiak. “Even if you have a normal allergy test, you can use that information to manage your exposure to other factors that may be causing your symptoms. At the same time, you can get back to activities that you stopped for fear of an allergic reaction.”
If you do have seasonal or environmental allergies, manage your symptoms by reducing your exposure to allergens. You can take steps such as:
- Lowering the humidity with a dehumidifier or AC to reduce dust mites in your home
- Planning outdoor activities when pollen counts are lower
- Using an air purifier to reduce pet dander
- Washing clothes and showering after being outside
If you still aren’t finding relief, medications can help. Over-the-counter antihistamines can work within hours while steroid nasal sprays provide relief in a few days. Prescription allergy shots can help gradually build your immunity to specific allergens. To begin, shots are usually given weekly. Eventually, you can scale back to monthly doses for a few years to maintain your immunity.
Not sure what’s right for you? Your physician can help you find a treatment plan to meet your specific needs.
Can’t Eat Your Favorite Food? Is It A Food Allergy?
Just like seasonal allergies, food allergies can appear at any time. Many kids develop food allergies young but can potentially outgrow them over time. But if you develop a food allergy as an adult, it is unlikely that it will disappear.
The most common adult-onset food allergies are:
- Fish and shellfish (shrimp and lobster)
- Tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans and cashews)
Some of the first signs of a food allergy are a swelling of the lips and tongue, itchiness and hives up to an hour after eating a specific food.
Don’t ignore a new reaction to a food you’ve eaten. Make an appointment with your doctor if you have suspicious symptoms after eating. Your doctor can perform blood and skin tests to diagnose or rule out food allergies. They can also help distinguish between a food allergy, food sensitivity and food intolerance.
In severe cases of food allergies, some people are at risk for developing anaphylaxis. This life-threatening condition triggers an immune reaction that dangerously lowers your blood pressure and narrows your airway. Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Light headedness
- Rapid, weak pulse
People with food allergies are usually prescribed an EpiPen. This device delivers an injection of epinephrine to stop a dangerous immune reaction. You should always carry your EpiPen with you and be sure that friends and family know where it is.
Whether you’re concerned about seasonal, environmental or food allergies, take the necessary steps to improve your health. “Many of my patients are relieved once they have completed allergy testing,” says Dr. Misiak. “They’re empowered to take charge of their health and improve the quality of their life.”
Want more advice from our wellness experts?
Subscribe today to receive weekly emails of our latest tips.
To make an appointment with a primary care physician or allergist, call 1-800-436-7936 or visit henryford.com.
Dr. Rana Misiak specializes in caring for patients with seasonal or food-related allergies and asthma. She sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Centers in Dearborn and Novi.
Adult Onset Allergies
Developing allergies as an adult is a fairly common phenomenon, but experts aren’t sure why some people are susceptible. Find out what you can do about sudden spring allergies or food allergies, and when it’s time to get an allergy test.
By Jennifer Acosta ScottMedically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
If you’ve never had a problem with pollen before, you might not realize when spring comes around that your sudden bouts of sneezing and watery eyes could be due to spring allergy symptoms. But it is possible to acquire seasonal allergies, food allergies, or other types of allergies as an adult with no prior history of them, says W. Edward Davis, III, MD, an allergist at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans.
“It’s fairly common,” says Dr. Davis. “I’ve even had 85-year-olds walk into my office with allergic rhinitis or hay fever. It’s unusual, but I’ve seen it.”
Most people who develop adult-onset allergies usually do so in their twenties and thirties, though it’s possible to develop them at any age, Davis says. Allergic reactions happen when the body comes into contact with a specific substance, such as a food or an airborne particle, that it mistakenly identifies as harmful. Your body then produces antibodies called immunoglobulin E, or IgE, that attach themselves to certain cells, causing the cells to release a chemical called histamine. The histamine in turn causes inflammation, producing classic seasonal allergy symptoms, like red, watery eyes, and itching. Severe reactions to environmental and food allergies can cause a drop in blood pressure, and anaphylactic shock may occur.
“Immunoglobulin E fights off infections,” Davis says. “It’s a good thing to have. But in about one in five people, too much IgE is misdirected against an allergen rather than something harmful. The body just makes a mistake.”
Unraveling the Adult Allergy Mystery
Researchers don’t 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 patient’s 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 you’ve never had indoor exposure to cats, it’s 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.
When to Consider an Allergy Test
If you suspect that you have developed seasonal or food allergies in adulthood, consult your family doctor or an allergist while you avoid the substances or foods you suspect. There are many allergy tests available to confirm a diagnosis, such as a blood test to check for the presence of specific forms of IgE. Another type of diagnostic tool is skin testing, in which a small amount of an allergen is applied to your skin to check for a reaction.
In the case of suspected food allergies, you might try an elimination diet, in which you eliminate certain foods from your diet and then slowly reintroduce them, one at a time, to see if a reaction occurs, but make sure you talk with your doctor first.
If an allergy diagnosis is confirmed, many therapies are available to eliminate or reduce symptoms. People with severe food allergies generally must avoid the foods in question and carry injectable epinephrine in case of accidental exposure. People with seasonal or other allergies can use a variety of medications, such as antihistamines and decongestants, to relieve seasonal allergy symptoms, and in some cases may respond well to allergy shots, which increase a person’s tolerance to certain allergens. Your doctor can help you determine the best course of treatment for your specific case.
What Are Allergies? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention
There are different kinds of persistent and seasonal allergies, with a variety of symptoms and potential complications.
By Kathleen Hall
Your Everyday Guide to Living Well With Asthma
From how to exercise safely, to managing asthma care costs, to deciding whether to join a clinical trial for asthma, here’s everything you need to know…
By Katherine Lee
10 Myths About Allergies
Don’t be fooled by these common allergy myths. The first step to getting relief from allergy symptoms is to learn the facts.
By Kathleen Hall
Winter Allergies: What Causes Them and How You Can Get Relief
Yes, you can have seasonal allergies in the winter, too. Here’s what causes them, how to get rid of triggers, and how to treat symptoms you do have.
By John Briley
Itchy Eyes: Is It an Allergy, Infection, Dry Eye, or Something Else?
Confusing allergic conjunctivitis with hay fever (nasal allergy), dry eye, pink eye, or blepharitis may lead to the wrong treatments and needless side. ..
By Susan K. Treiman
Treatment for Allergies
Allergy treatments vary from over-the-counter to prescription depending on your specific allergies, symptoms, and severity.
By Kathleen Hall
Allergy Symptoms and Diagnosis
Allergic reactions can vary based on the type of allergy you have. Here’s what to know about common allergies and symptoms plus diagnosis and testing….
By Kathleen Hall
How to Exercise Outdoors With Seasonal Allergies
If outdoor workouts cause intense allergy symptoms, time your sessions for when pollen levels are low, and learn the facts about allergy medication.
By Jennifer Warner
Experts Expect an Early, Intense Spring Allergy Season
What Is Anaphylaxis? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention
10 Myths About Allergies
Allergy – causes, symptoms and treatment
Contents of the article
- Symptoms and signs
- Causes and risk factors
- When to see a doctor
- Preparing for a doctor’s visit
- Diagnosis of allergies in adults and children
- Medicinal products
- Home remedies
- Myths and dangerous misconceptions in the treatment of allergies
- How to make an appointment with an allergist
Allergy is a state of the body in which the immune system sees a threat in substances that do not actually pose a danger to humans. The immune system considers them antigens, so it begins to produce antibodies against them. During this period, a person begins to feel that the body is fighting the disease, which is manifested by unpleasant symptoms.
In reality, there are no real pathogens. Such an increased sensitivity of the body to certain substances (allergens) is called an allergy.
Symptoms and signs
Allergic reactions can vary in intensity from mild to severe. Moreover, depending on the allergen, a person may show different symptoms. Main symptoms:
- allergy to animals. It is easy to install when, upon contact with pets, the eyes turn red and tears flow, a runny nose or dry cough begins. Allergies to cats and dogs can also cause redness and itching of the skin;
- food allergy. Causes redness and thickening of the skin, which are accompanied by itching. Sometimes there is conjunctivitis or a runny nose. Allergy on the skin manifests itself in the form of dermatitis. When inhaled vapors or particles of allergens, the respiratory system is affected;
- Allergic to flowering. Pollen causes allergic rhinitis, conjunctivitis, wheezing and dry cough, itching of the tongue and palate;
- drug allergy. It can be manifested by urticaria, attacks of bronchial asthma, allergic dermatitis, Quincke’s edema. Allergy spots increase over time. From small ones they can merge into large ones.
Similar symptoms can occur with allergies to protein, cold or dust, or insect bites.
Causes and risk factors
Modern medicine does not give the exact causes of allergies in adults and children. The main role in the mechanism of its occurrence is assigned to genetics. If one of the parents has it, then the child will have it with a 30% probability, if both have it, with a 70%. Severe allergies during pregnancy can develop due to a decrease in immunity.
Doctors only cite risk factors that trigger the pathological process. Such factors include:
- unbalanced diet;
- severe stress;
- overuse of drugs;
- unfavorable ecology;
- frequent respiratory tract infections: tonsillitis, bronchitis, rhinitis;
- the presence of large amounts of household allergens;
- artificial feeding, including premature transfer to it.
If you take measures against risk factors, you can reduce the risk of developing allergic reactions.
In children and adults, allergy symptoms can provoke multiple complications. Among them, the most dangerous are:
- anaphylactic shock;
- acute vascular insufficiency;
- nausea and dizziness;
- Quincke’s edema.
In severe cases, anaphylactic shock and Quincke’s edema can be fatal. In atopic dermatitis, against the background of skin allergies, other skin diseases, including mycosis and herpes, often join.
When the symptoms are in the eyes, corneal hypertrophy may develop due to their frequent friction. It limits a person’s vision. Approximately half of the children who suffered from skin allergies in childhood may develop bronchial asthma in adulthood.
When to see a doctor
If you have symptoms of an allergy, you should contact an allergist. Do not ignore its signs, since an allergic reaction can cause serious complications. If the symptoms have been observed for more than a month or appear regularly, a visit to a specialist is required. Experienced allergists work at JSC “Medicina” (clinic of academician Roitberg) in the center of Moscow, who will find out the cause of the unpleasant condition and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
It is worth contacting an allergist, even if a person does not yet know what an allergy looks like, but he has a predisposition to it, for example, hereditary. This will allow you to identify possible allergens in advance and take measures to prevent the development of a reaction to them.
Preparing for a doctor’s visit
At the appointment, the allergist clarifies with the patient about the symptoms and what preceded their appearance. Therefore, in preparation for the reception, it is necessary to consider and even write down what signs appear and in what situations.
This will allow the doctor to guess the type of allergen that is causing the negative reaction. Even at the appointment, the allergist will examine the skin, so it is better to wear clothes with which it will be easy to provide access to the foci of inflammation on the skin.
Diagnosis of allergies in adults and children
JSC “Medicina” (clinic of Academician Roitberg) in the center of Moscow has all the necessary diagnostic methods. We use advanced techniques and modern technical equipment. Therapeutic procedures can be carried out both on an outpatient basis and in a hospital.
First of all, the doctor draws on the diagnostic signs of allergies on the face and other areas, as well as mucous membranes. Subjective complaints of the patient are also taken into account. To confirm the diagnosis appoint:
- allergen test. Also called a breakdown, it plays an important role in diagnosis. Tests are carried out at the stage of remission. To do this, a drop of a solution with a small amount of allergen is applied to the skin, after which the reaction is monitored;
- allergy blood test. Changes are also noted in the blood: an increase in eosinophils, immunoglobulins E;
- analysis for specific antibodies, for example, to a parasitic disease, infection or dust.
The main treatment for allergies is to follow a special diet. This is what allows you to get rid of unpleasant symptoms and minimize the risk of relapse. A diet for allergies is observed for life, since this disease is chronic. It requires the complete exclusion from the diet of those foods that provoke the occurrence of its symptoms. There are 2 types of diet:
- specific. It is prescribed for patients in whom allergens have been identified in the laboratory, for example, milk, eggs, protein, chocolate, etc. – here the diet will be individual for each person;
- non-specific. Observed when a specific allergen has not been identified. Since the symptom provocateur is not found, all potential provocateurs of food allergies must be excluded from the diet.
On a non-specific diet, the patient is additionally recommended to keep a food diary. It is necessary to record the food consumed daily and the reaction that occurs to it. In this way, the patient will gradually be able to identify food allergens on their own.
Additionally, other methods of treatment are practiced today:
- intravenous laser blood irradiation. Gives immunostrengthening and anti-inflammatory effects;
- allergen-specific immunotherapy. An allergen is introduced into the body, the dose of which is gradually increased in order to reduce the sensitivity of the body to it.
In the acute period of allergic reactions, the patient is prescribed pharmacological drugs. Basically, these are drugs with antihistamine action. In mild cases, they are prescribed in tablet form, and in more severe cases, in injection form, which is distinguished by a faster effect.
Allergy medications can also be used one-time when a person has accidentally eaten a food allergen. This will help relieve the symptoms of the disease. Allergy remedies also include various nasal sprays with a vasoconstrictive effect. They help reduce swelling of the mucosa and get rid of congestion. But in order to avoid addiction, they can be used no longer than 5-7 days.
In severe cases, hormonal corticosteroids are used. A good effect is given by sorbents that bind and remove toxins and allergens from the body, which reduces the severity of an allergic reaction.
Talk to your doctor about using home remedies for allergies. Otherwise, you can only worsen the situation and aggravate the symptoms. At home, the following tools are widely used:
- nasal saline solution. For 1 st. water take 1 tsp. salt. The resulting solution is washed with the nose in the morning and evening. It helps with hay fever;
- Pepper heel essential oil. It can be used for topical application, but only after dilution. It is also useful to inhale oil vapors, especially with bronchial asthma;
- inhalation over hot water. They help ease breathing and clear mucus from the nose. Essential oils or herbal infusions can be added to the water. Particularly preferred is eucalyptus essential oil, which has an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect.
Myths and dangerous misconceptions in the treatment of allergies
One of the widespread myths is that if you violate the rules of allergy treatment once and eat an allergenic product, then the reaction to it will not occur, and if you eat it often, it will accumulate and manifest itself. In fact, it will occur every time. That is why contact with the allergen should be excluded completely.
Compliance with the rules of prevention is relevant for those who are at risk of developing allergic reactions. The main preventive measures include:
- adherence to a hypoallergenic lifestyle with limited contact with allergens, regular ventilation and reduction of household chemicals;
- adherence to a hypoallergenic diet that excludes food allergens;
- Avoiding and reducing contact with animals4
- use of respiratory masks during flowering.
How to make an appointment with an allergist? To do this, use the online form on the website or call the contact number. The clinic is very easy to get to as it is located in the center of Moscow, close to Chekhovskaya, Tverskaya, Novoslobodskaya, Mayakovskaya and Belorusskaya stations.
How do I know if I have an allergy?
What is an allergy?
First of all, you should understand what types of allergies are. We’ve rounded up a few of the most common.
Hay fever. Allergy to plant pollen is a serious problem, because it is almost impossible to limit the patient’s contact with the allergen when spring is around and everything is in bloom. Of course, there are those who can afford to leave for the time of flowering plants. But how many of us are so lucky? Those who are forced to remain in place will have to choose between enduring or undergoing treatment so that they no longer suffer from allergy attacks and enjoy the spring.
Allergy to animals (epidermal). One of the most common. In those who suffer from this type of allergy, the symptoms worsen in response to irritants of epidermal origin: feathers, wool, dander, and even animal body fluids. Do not think that allergies can only be cats or dogs. Any animal, even cockroaches, becomes a source of allergens. The decision not to get a pet seems to be successful only at first glance, because allergies can overtake anywhere – at a party and even on the street. But there is good news – modern diagnostic methods allow you to accurately identify a specific allergen and conduct effective treatment.
Household allergies. Dust, mold, household chemicals – all this can cause an allergic reaction. An attack of the disease can be provoked not only by staying indoors, but even by a light breeze that bursts into an open window and raises dust under a closet or behind a sofa. This type of allergy requires treatment, as it leads to a number of serious complications: from the growth of adenoids to atrophy of the nasal mucosa and complete loss of smell.
Food allergy. One of the most insidious types of allergies. Absolutely any product can become an allergen, so a person with this disease needs to know exactly which irritant causes a negative reaction in the body.
How does it manifest itself?
Allergy symptoms are varied. That is why it is so easy to confuse it with other diseases. Among the most frequent manifestations of an allergic reaction: runny nose, watery eyes, skin rashes, sore throat and cough, asthma attacks, etc.
Symptoms of a food allergy, in addition to those typical of an allergic reaction, are constipation or diarrhea, abdominal cramps and colic, nausea and vomiting.
How is allergy diagnosed?
The only sure way to determine if a person has hypersensitivity to a particular allergen is an analysis. Conventionally, allergy tests can be divided into two groups:
Can allergies be treated?
Fortunately, there are effective treatments for allergies today. Among them, it is especially worth highlighting allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT). This is a kind of “training” of the body for exposure to allergens.
This method is based on the introduction of an allergen into the body with a gradual increase in its dosage. As a result, the immune system simply stops responding to the irritant, and allergy symptoms disappear.