Allergies are an incredibly common condition that affects millions of Americans every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 25.7% of adults have a seasonal allergy, and 6.2% have a food allergy.
While many people have allergies from childhood, it’s not uncommon for people to develop allergies as an adult as well.
How Allergies Develop
Regardless of when you develop allergies, the same mechanism is happening in your body. Your body mistakes a harmless substance like pet dander or pollen as a threat and builds an immune response to fight it.
The first stage of developing an allergy is known as sensitization. Your body creates antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE) to respond to the allergen. The second stage occurs the next time you come into contact with the substance. Your body releases chemicals like histamine which triggers an allergic reaction meant to prevent allergens from getting in. This reaction is responsible for symptoms like nasal congestion, sneezing and itchy, watery eyes.
Allergies Can Develop at Any Point in Your Life
As mentioned, many people with allergies first develop them in childhood. Some of those people even outgrow their allergies as they reach adulthood. However, for others, allergies show up in their 20s or 30s and sometimes even later than that.
Why This Happens
While it’s not entirely clear why some people develop allergies for the first time in adulthood, there are a number of possibilities.
- Having a severe allergic reaction in childhood. Even if it was an isolated event, a severe allergic reaction when you’re young can make it more likely that you develop allergies to that same substance as an adult.
- Exposed to allergens when immune system function is reduced. This can happen when you are sick or if you are dealing with an autoimmune disorder or any other condition that compromises your immune system.
- Relocating as an adult. If you spend your whole life in one part of the country and then move to another, it’s possible to develop allergies to plants and trees that you hadn’t been exposed to before.
- Getting a new pet. Similar to moving to a new area, if you get a dog or cat for the first time, you might find out that you are allergic to their dander. This may even happen if you have a long time in between having pets.
Treat Your Allergies
Allergy symptoms can increase fatigue, worsen sleep and make it harder to do things like focus at work or have the energy to meet friends at Warm Waves Coffee House. If you believe you’ve developed new allergies as an adult, call ENT of Georgia North today to schedule an appointment with one of our expert allergists.