Why Does This Happen
It isnt exactly clear why allergies might develop in adulthood.
Researchers believe that a severe allergic reaction during childhood, even a single episode of symptoms, can increase your likelihood of developing allergies as an adult when youre re-exposed to that allergen at higher levels.
In some cases, these links are easy to see and represent what is known as the atopic march. Children who have food allergies or skin conditions like eczema may develop symptoms of seasonal allergies, like sneezing, itching, and sore throats, as they get older.
Then, symptoms fade for a while. They may return in your 20s, 30s, and 40s when youre exposed to an allergy trigger. Possible adult allergy triggers can include:
- Allergen exposure when your immune system function is reduced. This happens when youre sick, pregnant, or have a condition that compromises your immune system.
- Having little exposure to an allergen as a child. You may not have been exposed to high enough levels to trigger a reaction until adulthood.
- Relocating to a new home or workplace with new allergens. This could include plants and trees that you werent exposed to before.
- Having a pet for the first time.Research suggests this can also happen after a long period of having no pets.
Can Allergies Stop On Their Own
A question commonly asked at diagnosis is how likely is it that my allergy will improve with time? The severity and types of symptoms you had at your initial reaction and the number of foods to which you are allergic can help predict your chances of outgrowing the allergy. In addition, we know that milk, egg and soy allergies most often improve with time while peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish are less likely to improve.
Its not recommended you simply assume that youve outgrown a reaction to an allergen instead, you should visit an allergist for testing. For food allergies, if your test results indicate that it is safe, you will participate in an in office oral food challenge to determine if you still have symptoms.
Are There Any Special Considerations For Adults Who Develop Asthma
People with multiple medical conditions need to be aware of how their illnesses and the medications they use may affect one another.
If you take more than one medication, talk with your physician about ways to simplify your medication program. Explore the possibility of combining medications or using alternate ones that will have the same desired effect. Be sure to discuss potential drug interactions with anything you take including vitamins or herbal supplements.
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Food Sensitivities And Intolerances Begin In Your Digestive System
Sometimes, your digestive system cant properly break down certain kinds of foods. When you ingest these foods, you may experience bloating, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, and gas. This type of reaction is called a food intolerance or sensitivity.
Unlike a food allergy, food sensitivities are rarely life-threatening, although they can cause plenty of pain and discomfort. You may be able to manage your food intolerance symptoms using over-the-counter enzyme replacements.
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Gupta, R.S., Warren, C.M., & Smith, B.M., et al. . Prevalence and severity of food allergies among U.S. adults. JAMA Network Open. 2019 2. Retrieved from
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When Allergies Typically Develop
Most people remember first getting allergy symptoms at a young age about 1 in 5 kids have some kind of allergy or asthma.
Many people outgrow their allergies by their 20s and 30s, as they become tolerant to their allergens, especially food allergens such as milk, eggs, and grains.
But its possible to develop an allergy at any point in your life. You may even become allergic to something that you had no allergy to before.
It isnt clear why some allergies develop in adulthood, especially by ones 20s or 30s.
Lets get into how and why you can develop an allergy later in life, how you can treat a new allergy, and whether you can expect a new allergy or an existing one to go away with time.
Food Allergies Can Develop During Adulthood
Many of us associate food allergies with childhood, but a recent study reports that more than 48% of people with food allergies develop them as adults. Even more worrisome is the fact that more than 51% of adults with food allergies will at some point experience a severe reaction that requires medical care.
Because food allergies can develop suddenly, you need to take symptoms like facial swelling, hives, and dizziness seriously. This is especially true if those reactions occur when youre eating foods that commonly trigger allergies such as shellfish, milk, peanuts, and tree nuts. And if you suddenly have difficulty breathing or swallowing, dont wait go to the nearest emergency room and get help immediately.
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Can You Develop Allergies Later In Life
It is certainly possible to develop allergies in adulthood. Adult-onset allergies can occur seemingly out of nowhere due to exposure to new allergens in the environment, family history and changes in the immune system. The most common food allergies in adults are peanuts, fish, shellfish such as shrimp, lobster and tree nuts .
Theres no way to avoid getting adult-onset allergies if youre susceptible to them, since you cant reasonably expect to know every trigger that could cause an allergic reaction and then avoid it. In addition, there is some recent research that indicates avoiding allergens can make it more likely for an individual to develop allergies, because the immune system is unfamiliar with more substances.
Can You Develop An Allergy To Eggs Later In Life
Egg allergies, like other food allergies, can arise later in life.
According to this study, several triggers could occur at any point in time. Medications, digestive complications, and other bodily changes could arise unexpectedly.
If you itch or develop skin inflammation, report digestive problems like vomiting, wheeze, shortness of breath, have nasal congestion, anaphylaxis, or start feeling sick after eating eggs, it could be an egg allergy.
The above may begin even in adult life.
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How To Manage An Allergy
In many cases, the most effective way of managing an allergy is to avoid the allergen that causes the reaction whenever possible.
For example, if you have a food allergy, you should check a foods ingredients list for allergens before eating it.
There are also several medicines available to help control symptoms of allergic reactions, including:
- these can be taken when you notice the symptoms of a reaction, or before being exposed to an allergen, to stop a reaction occurring
- tablets, capsules, nasal sprays or liquids that can be used as a short-term treatment for a blocked nose
- lotions and creams, such as moisturising creams these can reduce skin redness and itchiness
- steroid medicines sprays, drops, creams, inhalers and tablets that can help reduce redness and swelling caused by an allergic reaction
For some people with very severe allergies, a treatment called immunotherapy may be recommended.
This involves being exposed to the allergen in a controlled way over a number of years so your body gets used to it and does not react to it so severely.
Food Intolerance Or Food Allergy
Many people mistake a food intolerance for an allergy. One study estimated that 25 to 30 percent of adults self-diagnose themselves with allergies, said dietitian Larissa Brophy in an article on Todays Dietitian. A food intolerance causes a digestive reaction to food, such as cramping, diarrhea, gas or bloating. Food intolerances are very common, but not life-threatening. Thirty- to 50 million adults in the U.S. have some level of lactose intolerance, for example.
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Factors That Can Tell If You Can Get A Peanut Allergy Later In Life
Though there are no fixed rules that can tell whether you can develop peanut allergy later in life or not, there are still some factors that can contribute in the likelihood. These are
- If you have asthma
- If you have other allergies
- If any of your other family members have this allergy or any other allergy.
If the answer to all these questions is yes, you have chances of developing an atopy or sensitivity to certain things that are usually not harmful.
What Is The Best Way To Live With Asthma
The key to good living with asthma is developing a strong partnership between patients, caregivers, and physicians. Practical steps include the following:
Make an asthma care management plan with your physician. An asthma management plan helps you understand what to do when specific situations arise. Each time you visit the physician, talk about your plan, and make any necessary changes.
Educate yourself. Stay informed about the latest developments in asthma and allergy care and treatment. Ask your physician about new medications or research findings that may relate to your care.
Get regular medical care. If you have asthma, you should see your physician at least once a year, even if your symptoms are under control. When you become sick, or if you have significant changes in your health, you should also talk with your physician about how your asthma could be affected.
Take your medicine. Your asthma medications will make you feel better and sometimes people think thats the time to stop. Its not! Use your medications as prescribed.
With good management, asthma symptoms can be controlled. Most people who develop adult onset asthma are able to lead normal lives. Expect success!
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Presence Of The Disease And Weather Conditions
If your type of egg allergy is the one that comes with eczema, the latter can trigger another food allergy.
Eczema or other allergic reactions may be from non-food allergies. When the skin disease is present, you are likely to have a sudden egg intolerance.
Usually, if eczema clears, the egg allergy itself can also disappear. Very often, this happens when you go to a place with a lot of sunshine.
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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What Causes Adults To Develop Asthma
At least 30% of adult asthma cases are triggered by allergies. People who are allergic to cats may have an increased risk for developing adult onset asthma. Exposure to allergens or irritants such as cigarette smoke, chemicals, mold, dust, or other substances commonly found in the persons environment might trigger the first asthma symptoms in an adult.
Prolonged exposure to certain workplace materials may set off asthma symptoms in adults.
Hormonal fluctuations in women may play a role in adult onset asthma. Some women first develop asthma symptoms during or after a pregnancy. Women going through menopause can develop asthma symptoms for the first time.
Different illnesses, viruses, or infections can be a factor in adult onset asthma. A bad cold or a bout with the flu is often a factor in adult onset asthma.
Smoking does not cause adult onset asthma however, if you smoke or if you are exposed to cigarette smoke , it may provoke asthma symptoms.
When To See A Doctor
Some allergy symptoms are mild and can be treated with reduced exposure to the allergen or by taking medication.
But some symptoms are severe enough to disrupt your life, or even life threatening.
Seek emergency medical help, or have someone around you get help if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- feeling abnormally dizzy
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Can Hayfever Cause Anaphylaxis
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Can pollen allergies cause anaphylaxis?
Pollen and other inhaled allergens rarely cause anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is life threatening and can occur at any time. Risks include a history of any type of allergic reaction.
what are the first signs of anaphylaxis?Signs and symptoms include:
Are Allergies Worse In Childhood Or Adulthood
Per the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and 2013 data, 28 million kids across the United States have allergies. As many as 50 million adults may get reactions to allergens as well.
While more adults have allergies in the United States than children, is there an age group that has it worse? Research that appeared in a 2012 article at MassGeneral Hospital for Children in Massachusetts suggests that adults may be the most at risk for intense, serious symptoms. Adult behaviors such as taking certain medications and drinking alcohol may increase risk for severe anaphylaxis. Exercise and having asthma can also increase reaction severity. Of course, young children who cannot communicate symptoms can also have severe reactions which go unnoticed and progress to dangerous levels.
A severe allergic reaction, which can be triggered by foods or venom , is called anaphylaxis. This is a life-threatening emergency condition in which the patient goes into shock, cannot breathe, and may have vomiting, nausea, and skin rashes. Anaphylaxis can occur instantaneously or sometimes minutes after eating an allergen or being stung. Epinephrine can control cases of anaphylaxis that are caught immediately. The longer the patient goes without treatment, the greater the likelihood that death can occur. For this reason patients with a history of severe anaphylaxis are encouraged to always have an in date epinephrine injector available.
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Causes Of Adult Onset Allergies
While there are many things that experts dont fully understand about allergies, there are a couple different theories as to why more and more adults are struggling with allergies later in life. The first theory is that the rise in airborne pollutants is much higher that is has been in the past. The poor indoor air quality that we live with coupled with the sedentary lifestyle that many people live are said to be a big cause. The other being the fact that we live in an environment that is too clean. The fact that we arent exposed to as much bacteria, doesnt allow our immune systems to develop as they should. We dont have the ability to fight off allergies like people did in the past.
The Difference Between Childhood And Adult
Allergies, of any kind, are abnormal immune system responses to things usually harmless to most people. When you develop an allergy, your immune system wrongly believes that the substance involved, called an allergen, is harming your body. In response, it produces antibodies which then release chemicals such as histamines that cause allergic symptoms to develop.
Somewhere around 50 million Americans, both kids and adults, have some type of allergy, with nasal allergies affecting more people every succeeding year, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. That makes allergies the sixth-leading cause of chronic illness in the US, according to the CDC, at a cost of more than $18 billion a year.
At Oasis Ear, Nose, and Throat in Surprise, Arizona, board-certified otolaryngologists Dr. James Osborne and Dr. Bryan Smedley see lots of patients both kids and adults come in with allergies to a wide range of substances, and reactions of varying degrees. What most people dont know, though, is that theres a difference between childhood and adult-onset allergies, so the team has put together this guide to get you in the know.
Are You At Risk
If you arent currently experiencing any new-found allergy symptoms, how do you know if you are at risk? Allergies are most common in adults with genetic susceptibility or family history of allergies. Everyone has a different personal vulnerability to allergies, which is why some may develop sensitivities and others will never experience any symptoms. Environmental exposures to certain allergens can also put you at risk of developing allergies. For example, several years of exposure to allergens can cause you to develop skin or lung sensitivities. As you age, you may lose tolerance to chemicals and ingredients in shampoo, perfumes or makeup, which can lead to allergic reactions on your skin.