Can I Develop Allergies As an Adult?

After years of uninterrupted enjoyment of spring weather, or digging into that gorgeous green kiwi, you’ve noticed things aren’t quite so smooth sailing. Your eyes and throat itch, you’re coughing and sneezing, and hives are popping up all over your arms.

It can’t be allergies, you think. You’re a grown adult who’s never had problems with allergic reactions before, so you’re in the clear. Or are you? 

Can Allergies Develop in Adulthood?

While the majority of allergies present themselves in childhood, adults are not immune to the onset of allergies.

Allergies to any substance can develop, even well into adulthood. More than 18 million Americans suffer from hay fever, and an even larger number develop allergies to environmental substances such as pet dander or dust. Foods and medications also present problems even for grown adults.

Why Do Allergies Develop in Adulthood?

Doctors and scientists don’t really know what triggers allergies, no matter when in life they develop 

Allergies are caused when the body determines that a substance, whether it’s 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 don’t 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

What Should I Do if I Suspect I’ve Developed an Allergy?

If you notice an allergic reaction for the first time, especially a serious one, seek medical attention.

Your allergist may recommend just treating your allergies without further testing, such as nasal sprays and decongestants. Most seasonal allergies do not require formal testing for effective treatment.

However, if you believe you are allergic to a food or environmental substance, your allergist likely will want to figure out exactly what substances you react to. A skin test exposes you to a variety of allergens, seeing which one causes a reaction. This test helps your allergist determine what substances you need to avoid and gives a starting point for further treatment.

Once your allergens are determined, your allergist will work with you on an allergy action plan, which may include:

  • Avoiding certain substances or situations

  • Washing your hands and clothing after contact with an allergen

  • Frequent preventative doses of antihistamine medications

  • Carrying an Epi pen

  • Further tolerance testing

Allergies at any age can be frustrating and cause you to rearrange your life. With proper diagnosis and treatment, however, you can continue to live your life with little interruption.

 

Allergy Clinic in MississippI 

If you find yourself coughing and sneezing in adulthood, the skilled doctors at Mississippi Asthma & Allergy Clinic can help. We’ve spent years on the diagnosis and treatment of all sorts of allergies, no matter the age of the sufferers. Schedule your appointment today at one of our five convenient locations!