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November 12, 2019

Adult-Onset Allergies: Why Did I Get Allergies as An Adult?

adult onset allergies

You have just hit your late 20s or early 30s (or even older) and you suddenly feel your eyes getting watery and itchy, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t stop sneezing. You think it has to be a cold of course, or maybe the flu. What else could it be? You can only develop allergies when you’re young, right? Well, you are wrong. Some of the symptoms you may be experiencing, including itching, sneezing, runny nose, and even stomach problems, may all be signs of Adult-Onset allergies. That’s right, contrary to common belief it is possible to develop allergies later in life.

No matter the age, you are never too old to develop an airborne or food allergy.  In the past, it was less common to develop an allergy in adulthood than in childhood. Today, however, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, allergy symptoms are suddenly appearing at any age.  In fact, just adult-onset food allergies impact up to 4% of adults. In the US alone, nearly 30,000 Americans were transported to the hospital yearly because of a food-related allergy and around 200 people died from those food allergies. Though no one knows for sure why it occurs, adults are not in the clear when it comes to any type of allergies.

Continue reading to learn more about Adult-Onset Allergies and how to manage them.


What is Adult-Onset Allergies?

Adult-Onset allergies are the development of allergy symptoms or allergic reactions at a later age in life. As you age, your immune system weakens, increasing your susceptibility to developing sensitivities. Many allergens, from food to pollen to chemicals, can cause your immune system to go into a state of emergency, causing symptoms such as swelling, digestive problems, hives, facial swelling or trouble breathing. The most common allergens in adults are pets, pollens, peanuts, grains, fish, shellfish and tree nuts. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to identify whether you are truly allergic to something or just sensitive to it (also known as an intolerance). The simplest way to explain the difference between them is that an intolerance triggers some bodily discomfort caused by a particular substance or food or fragrance, while a true allergy results in a more severe reaction after exposure to a specific substance.  However, in common usage, and for the rest of this article, we will use the words allergy, intolerance, and sensitivity interchangeably.


For most people, allergies and sensitivities follow a predictable pattern. Many people experience mild allergy symptoms as a child and outgrow them during their teenage years, only for it to reappear in their adult life more severely. And others outgrow one allergy, only to develop a new allergy to an entirely different allergen. For some, they may have never had an allergy at all, only to later develop an allergy in adulthood. A common example of this is an adult who suddenly develops seasonal allergies for the first time or develops sensitivities to foods that they used to be able to eat with no problem.


Why do you get them?

Even though doctors are not entirely sure why adults develop allergies later in life, there is some understanding as to what may enhance your chances of developing allergies. Allergic reactions occur when your immune system mistakenly identifies a substance, such as pet dander, pollen, mold or food, as a harmful threat to your body. This stimulates your immune system to release chemicals which then results in allergy symptoms. There are a variety of things that can increase your chance of developing allergy symptoms, which include:

  • Exposure to allergens when your immune system is weak.
  • Moving to a new location with different plants and trees.
  • Getting a pet or getting a dog after you’ve only had cats or vice versa.

One thing is for sure: your immune system is constantly changing, and you can never be entirely certain whether you will develop an allergy later in life.  Common sense dictates you should be mindful of your body in order to be aware of any new bodily changes.


Are you at risk?

If you aren’t 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.

There is significant research to indicate that an increase in allergies in Americans can be a direct result of an increase in airborne allergens and pollutants. The term “hygiene hypothesis” refers to how a more sanitary environment increases susceptibility to allergic diseases. Environments that are too clean (bacteria-free but overloaded with airborne, contacted, and ingested chemicals) suppresses the natural development of the immune system. So, when your body comes in contact with certain allergens, it causes a reaction because it does not recognize the substance. Our environment and food are often so hygienically clean that it does not allow our immune systems the opportunity to interact with germs and bacteria, resulting in an overreaction to allergens. If you had increased exposure to certain allergens or you lived in an environment that was too sanitary, you may be at an increased risk for Adult-Onset allergies.



Managing Allergies

Allergies can be a pain, especially if you don’t know what allergen is causing your reactions or how to treat your allergies. If you suspect that you may have an allergy or you experience a reaction shortly after eating a particular food, try your best to avoid that food until you have talked to your doctor.  It is important to seek an allergist immediately to prevent the possibility of experiencing a severe allergic reaction. Allergic reactions, especially to food, can cause life-threatening anaphylaxis. An allergist will be able to identify the allergen/s, find a solution and teach you how to manage your symptoms effectively.

Most people treat their allergy symptoms with over the counter antihistamines or medicine prescribed by their doctor. Others opt for long-term treatment with immunotherapy injections.  Unfortunately, most of those solutions do not offer long-term relief.  For those who do not find relief using conventional medicine, or who do not want to put drugs or injections into their bodies, often turn to holistic allergists for help.  The most effective technique for treating allergies holistically is Advanced Allergy Therapeutics (AAT).  AAT treatments are painless and non-invasive, involving no shots or needles, no drugs or herbal supplements, and no avoidance.

With so many allergy solutions available, you no longer need to worry about pesky allergy symptoms. You can find relief and discover the triggers of your reactions.  It is a lot easier to handle and treat your allergy symptoms once you know what’s causing them.


So now that you know even adults can develop allergies, you can better prepare yourself in case allergies appear in your life. Allergies may not be avoidable, but you can empower yourself with the right information to better handle your allergy symptoms if they happen to you.


If you suffer from allergies and you have been unsuccessful with allergy treatments or are looking for something different, St. Louis Allergy Relief Center treats allergies holistically without the use of pain or pills. We are an allergy wellness center, specializing only in natural treatments. We specialize in holistic, natural allergy treatments using Advanced Allergy Therapeutics (AAT). We provide you with a detailed treatment plan after completing a comprehensive assessment to determine environmental stressors that may be triggering allergies or allergy-like symptoms. Visit our website to learn more or call us at 314-384-9304.

 We also deliver community workshops as well as a free monthly informational workshop on the first Thursday of every month at 5:45 pm in our Chesterfield office.  Our free monthly workshop provides the public with information on our unique approach to allergy treatments and includes an opportunity to meet with our patients for a question and answer session. If you are interested in attending one of our free monthly workshops, please call our office at 314-384-9304 to reserve your space.