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why do people develop allergies later in life

Those lucky enough to skate through childhood and adolescence without itchy, watery eyes aren't immune fromВ
for life. Developing adult-onset allergies в from seasonal allergies to food allergies в is possible no matter how old you are. when your immune system mistakenly identifies a substance such as pollen, mold, animal dander, or food as harmful. That substance is referred to as an allergen. The allergen stimulates immune system cells to release certain chemicals, such as histamine, which then lead to. Depending on the allergen, allergy symptoms can involve the nasal passages, eyes, sinuses, airways, skin, and digestive system. Reactions can vary from mild to severe and, in some cases, cause, a life-threatening condition. Why Allergies Now? There's a lot experts still don't know about allergies, including what triggers them. TheyВ do know, however, that the prevalence of allergic rhinitis, also called hay fever, is increasing in the United States and around the world. Most theories as to why allergy symptoms have increased focus on "higher concentrations of airborne pollutants, rising dust mite populations, less ventilation in homes and offices, dietary factors, and sedentary lifestyles," says Deborah Pockross, MD, a physician at Kenilworth Medical Associates in Kenilworth, Illinois, and staff doctor at Northshore University Health System in Evanston. Another theory is the so-called hygiene hypothesis в meaning "a more sanitary environment [and less exposure to bacteria] increases susceptibility to allergic disease by suppressing the natural development of the immune system," Dr.


Pockross explains. In other words, our living conditions and food are so clean they don't offer our immune systems enough to do, so our systems overreact to allergens instead. Who Is at Risk for Adult-Onset Allergies? Most people who are diagnosed with allergies as adults probably had an allergic episode earlier in life that they don't remember. Often allergies follow a predictable course: eczema and and toddlers, then hay fever symptoms in mid-to-late childhood. Allergy symptoms may fade during the teen years, only to return when you're an adult. Some people, however, do experience allergy symptoms for the first time in adulthood. This most often happens in your twenties, thirties, and forties rather than in later years. "As we age, our immune system does weaken в that is why more seniors get than 20-year-olds," says Anthony J. Weido, MD, president of Allergy & Asthma Associates in Houston, Texas, and the Gulf Coast area. "As the immune system weakens, the hyper-allergic reaction also weakens," he says. Any type of allergy can occur in adulthood, including hay fever, pet allergies, and dust mite and mold allergies as well as insect bite, drug, and food allergies. Again, experts aren't entirely sure why this happens, but theories include: being exposed to allergens when the immune system is weakened, such as during an illness or pregnancy moving to a new location with different trees, plants, and grasses Managing Allergy Symptoms If you're bothered by mild allergy symptoms from hay fever and the like, it's fine to try over-the-counter antihistamines.


If this doesn't help, consult your doctor to rule out other conditions and possibly get a referral to a specialist. An allergy expert can help determine specific triggers, suggest ways to avoid them, and perhaps offer medications. If you suspect you have a food allergy, take it very seriously, as it can be life-threatening. Be sure to work closely with a board-certified allergist who will teach you about avoiding unexpected sources of the food and managing your allergy symptoms. Allergies can be unpleasant no matter how young or old you are, but your medical team can help you identify your allergy triggers and find solutions. If you are an adult who has been recently diagnosed with a food allergy, then you know the struggles that accompany adult-onset food allergy. Previously, you were probably able to order just about anything from a menu or pick up any items from a grocery store shelf with minimal worry. Now you are faced with new challenges, like using an auto-injector. You also have learned about how to avoid foods that may cause you to go into anaphylaxis and may find yourself explaining to your questioning friends and family why you can longer eat certain foods. Some of your family members may even question you, saying it is not possible to develop food allergies later in life, after your immune system is well developed. They are wrong. Although the majority of food allergies develop in children, it is possible for you to develop them later in life.


The picture is not entirely clear yet as to why this happens, but some research studies are beginning to shed some light onto possible reasons. More Adults Have Adult-Onset Food Allergy Than You May Think Although the majority of research focuses on childrenБs food allergies, a sizeable portion of the adult population has them, too, at about 5 percent (compared with about 8 percent of adolescents). Some children may outgrow their food allergies, but many retain them into adulthood. Few studies were previously led that focused on adult-onset food allergies, which is why Dr. Ruchi Gupta, food allergy researcher at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie ChildrenБs Hospital of Chicago and Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, led a in 2014. Dr. Gupta said that anything you heard about adult-onset food allergy was anecdotal prior to this study. Researchers wanted to figure out how often this was happening and whether they could find any links. Dr. Gupta and his colleagues from Northwestern University surveyed 40,447 adults. According to their research, nearly 52 percent of adults in the United States with reported food allergy developed their condition after the age of 18. Surprisingly, all of the Top 8 allergens (milk, egg, wheat, peanut, tree nuts, soy, fish and shellfish) were represented in their results. They found that the most common food allergen among adults was shellfish, affecting 3. 9 percent of the U. S. population. Next in line were peanut allergies, which affected 2. 4 percent, and tree nut allergies, falling in at 1. 9 percent.


Soy, milk and egg allergies were also evident, despite the fact that they were previously associated solely with childhood. But How can Adults Develop Food Allergies Later in Life? Many adults with newly diagnosed food allergies find that the foods they are now allergic to are foods they previously enjoyed and wonder what caused it, according to Dr. Gupta. What is it that triggers this switch to flip, causing a newfound allergic reaction in adults? While some suggest their transfer happened as the result of pregnancy, the environment or an illness, conclusive evidence is still being sought out. But researchers have not come up empty handed. The most common reason for individuals to develop food-related allergies beyond the first few years of life is due to the fact that something they become allergic to is related to something else they are allergic to. This pattern is known as oral allergy syndrome, which can occur in people who have seasonal allergies. For example, some people are allergic tree pollen. Some proteins found in tree pollen are similar to those found in some fruits and vegetables. When your body eats these foods in raw form, it thinks you are ingesting tree pollen. A similar reaction can occur in people who are allergic to dust mites. Dust mites share similar proteins with shellfish, which can lead to the development of an allergy to shellfish in people who were previously only allergic to dust mites. Although it is not yet clear what causes the development of a food allergy later in life, answers are slowly being unveiled.

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