An allergy is your immune system’s response to substances that are irritating such as certain foods, pollens and house dust mite. While in the majority of individuals these substances create no problem, in allergic persons these substances are identified as a ‘threat’ (allergens) and can cause allergic responses such as rash, cough, sneeze etc. Most of the people who are allergic are born with it, but can you develop on your own?
Can You Get Allergies Later in Life?
Contrary to popular belief, childhood is not the only time when you develop allergies. If you have skated through to adulthood without developing any problems with allergy, it doesn’t imply that you cannot have one. In fact you can get allergies at any age, whether that is a reaction to food, pollen, mold or something else. If you suspect that you have developed allergy to something, it is a smart move to talk to your physician, identify the allergen and identify if the symptoms are really of an allergic reaction so that you don’t develop a potentially dangerous allergic reaction the next time you are exposed to the trigger factor.
How does an Allergy Happen?
An allergic reaction occurs when the person’s immune system mistakenly identifies an otherwise harmless substance as harmful. The body is triggered by these substances to release histamine, a chemical that produces various symptoms of allergy such as runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, congestion and itching. Allergies in adults to foods can also result in digestive problems, rashes of the skin and swelling of the throat and mouth. Although most allergic symptoms create mere annoyance, some allergic reactions in adults can result in severe and life threatening symptoms.
What Are the Most Possible Reasons for Allergy in Adults?
1. Pollen: Also referred to as hay fever, allergy to pollen is the most common type of allergy trigger. It affects 1 in 5 individuals. It is a seasonal type of allergy; hence, the symptoms of hay fever such as runny nose, sneezing and itching in eyes are worst during that time of the year when the pollen you are allergic to is more prevalent.
2. Mold: Allergic symptoms resembling to symptoms of hay fever that occur all through the year can be caused due to an allergy to spores of mold. Mold can grow indoors in damp areas such as basements and bathrooms or outside in piles of leaves or on logs.
3. Dust: You can be allergic to any component of dust present in the household; however, the most common culprits are the dust mites. These are tiny creatures that harbor regularly in beddings and carpets and can cause classic symptoms of allergy such as sneezing and runny nose.
4. Animal dander: The dander, or the skin flakes from the animals such as dogs, cats, gerbils and hamsters can trigger symptoms of allergy in around 10% or individuals-an answer to the question can you get allergies later in life. Although less common than allergy to animal dander, some individuals can be allergic to bird feathers and bird droppings also.
5. Foods: Allergies to foods including soy, eggs, peanuts, dairy and shellfish tend to occur in childhood; however, it can develop in adults too. When it flares up in adults the symptoms occur in the form of itching of the mouth or skin.
6. Insect stings and bites such as wasp stings and bee stings: Depending on how severe the allergic reaction is, the insect venom can produce symptoms of swelling, itching and in some cases anaphylactic shock, which is a life threatening condition that requires emergency medical attention.
7. Medications: Some people may be allergic to medicines such as penicillin or penicillin-based antibiotics.
How to Manage Symptoms of Allergies
Treatment of adult allergy includes:
Avoidance of the allergen: Your physician will help you in identifying and avoiding the triggers of allergy. This is the most important step that you can take in preventing occurrence of allergic reaction and in reducing symptoms.
Medicines: Depending on your symptoms, your physician may suggest either OTC or prescription medicines to decrease the immune system reaction and relieve symptoms.
Immunotherapy: For allergies not completely relieved by other methods of treatments or for severe allergies, your physician may recommend allergen immunotherapy. In this type of treatment purified allergen extracts is given in the form of series of injections, usually over a period of a couple of years.
Emergency epinephrine: If you suffer from severe allergy, your physician may provide you with an emergency epinephrine shot (EpiPen) to keep with you at all times. EpiPen is given for severe allergic reactions and it reduces symptoms till the time you get emergency treatment.
Lifestyle and Home Remedies for Allergies
Hay fever symptoms and sinus congestion: You can do saline nasal irrigation to improve the symptoms. Use a neti pot or a specially designed squeeze bottle to rinse out the sinuses with water and salt solution.
Household airborne allergic reactions: Decrease your exposure to pet dander or dust mites by washing stuffed toys and bedding frequently in hot water, keeping humidity low, using a vacuum that has a fine filter regularly and replacing carpets with hard flooring.
Mold allergy symptoms: Decrease moisture in damp areas such as kitchen and bathrooms by using dehumidifiers and ventilation fans. Also fix leaks outside and inside your house.
Prevention of Adult Allergies
After knowing the answer to can you get allergies later in life let us discuss some prevention methods. Preventing allergy depends upon the type of allergy you are suffering from. The general measures which can be taken to prevent allergies are:
Avoid known allergens: For example, if you are allergic to pollen, try to stay inside your home with doors and windows closed when pollen is high.
Keep a diary: Maintaining a diary helps identify what causes or aggravates your symptoms as you can track your activities and foods you eat.
Wear a medical alert necklace or bracelet: If you have a history of having a severe allergic reaction, a medical alert necklace or bracelet will let other people know that you have an allergic reaction in case you have symptoms and are not able to communicate.