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 Can Allergies Worsen As You Get Older?

Dec 04, 2023
 Can Allergies Worsen As You Get Older?
Millions of people struggle with allergies, which can come from numerous sources. They affect people of all ages, but do they worsen as you get older? Read on to find out if they do.

Your immune system plays an important role in keeping you healthy, and ironically, people with allergies have overactive systems that respond to things that do them no harm. Allergies are the result of your body responding to harmless things such as pet dander, dust, and other allergens like foreign particles threatening your health, leading to various reactions. Over 50 million people deal with this illness, which can start in childhood but may outgrow them as they mature.

However, adults deal with allergies, which can develop in early adulthood or later in life. So, do allergies get worse for adults as they age? Let’s determine the answer by exploring how allergies work, how they may affect you as you get older, and your treatment options.

Dr. Chinwe Okafor and her dedicated medical staff at Sugarland Primary Care Physicians can help you find relief if you live in the Sugarland, Texas, area and have the unpleasant effects of allergic reactions.

Understanding allergies

An allergic reaction causes your body to produce immunoglobulin E (IgE) from antibodies in your immune system. IgE then binds to your allergy (mast) cells, which live in areas like your skin, respiratory tract, and digestive tract. When antibodies find your allergens, they attach to receptors that release histamine, which is how you get allergy symptoms.

This reaction leads to many different types of allergies, including:

  • Food: Many of the foods you eat can cause allergic reactions, like dairy, eggs, soy, wheat, shellfish, and nuts. 
  • Inhalants: This is the result of airborne substances that get in through your nose and mouth and include pet dander, molds, and dust mites.
  • Latex: Rubber gloves, balls, condoms, balloons, and bandages all have latex, which can create allergic reactions on your skin and cause hives, sinus issues, and itching.
  • Medications: Numerous over-the-counter, prescription, and herbal medicines can cause allergies, like antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, NSAIDs, and insulin.
  • Insect bites: In addition to being unpleasant to deal with, stings and bites from bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and fire ants can cause hives and difficulty breathing.

Ways they can affect you as you age

While allergies are common in children, and many have the same issues as adults, people 20 and older can develop allergies seemingly out of nowhere. Of the people who struggle with adult-onset allergies, about half of them have problems with foods, accounting for 10% of Americans with food allergies. Respiratory allergies are also common for people dealing with many of the same issues they would have as children.

Factors that affect adults developing this problem include family history, lack of exposure to allergens while growing up, overuse of antibiotics during childhood, stress, and moving to a new environment. They may not get any worse, but any of these factors can cause you to develop new allergies.

Methods of treatment

You can do some basic things to reduce allergic reactions and avoid the allergens as much as possible by keeping your environment clean and washing clothes exposed to them. Be aware of the signs of a reaction - it’s critical to know what to avoid and if you have a history of serious reactions to specific allergens. Wearing a medical alert necklace or bracelet can be life-saving. Take prescribed medications, and if over-the-counter drugs can lower your symptoms, you can certainly take them.

Allergies are frustrating to deal with, but we can help you manage them. You can make an appointment today with Dr. Okafor and her Sugarland Primary Care Physicians team to breathe easier and feel better about your allergies.