According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, around 50 million Americans have some kind of allergic reaction each year. Children are particularly susceptible to allergies, but you can develop allergies as an adult, too.
The expert providers at Apex Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, find that adult patients with allergies are sometimes surprised to learn that’s the cause of their symptoms. If you’ve never had allergies before, why do they suddenly emerge? And, importantly, are there effective treatments to help adults who have newly-developed allergies?
What are allergies, anyway?
Some substances have a tendency to trigger the body’s immune system. Pollen, pet dander, certain foods, are all examples of common allergens. Even though these substances aren’t dangerous in and of themselves, some immune systems react as if they were.
When your immune system swings into action, quite a few things happen. First, your body creates antibodies called immunoglobulin E (IgE). Those antibodies go to various parts of your body, depending on the substance. You may have IgE in your nose, throat, mouth, lungs, or in your digestive tract.
The next time you encounter the questionable substance, your immune system is primed and ready. Your inflammatory response kicks in, including the release of histamine. You may feel itchy, have a cough, excess mucus, or your airways may swell, making it more difficult to breathe.
When you have an allergic reaction, your immune system overreacts to a common substance that it perceives as a foreign invader, causing a variety of different symptoms.
When do most people develop allergies?
Allergies are one of the most common childhood ailments, and about 20% of children have allergies or asthma. Many people “outgrow” their allergies and don’t have problems during their teen years or as young adults. The allergy may re-emerge in your 30s or 40s.
However, there are some people who develop allergies as adults for the first time. In fact, some experts say that more people are developing adult-onset allergies as time goes on. That may be because there are longer and heavier pollen seasons, more environmental triggers, and other possible causes.
If you move to a new area that has different plants, you might develop an allergy, or if you get a pet for the first time as an adult. If you come into contact with a new chemical you could develop an allergy. Having an allergy as a child raises your risk of developing an allergy to something completely different as an adult.
How are allergies treated?
First, if possible, avoid the substance that triggers your allergic reaction. Don’t eat shrimp if you’re allergic to shellfish, for example.
Obviously, that’s not always possible. When you can’t help coming into contact with whatever you’re allergic to, antihistamines may be an option. Some people do well with customized injections to deal with seasonal allergies.
It’s important to work with your doctor to find a treatment that works for you. For people with severe allergies, anaphylaxis, or a severe allergic reaction, it may be necessary to keep an auto-injector of epinephrine with you at all times. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening.
If you suspect you may have adult on-set allergies, schedule an appointment at one of our three locations. The providers at Apex Medical Center can appropriately diagnose allergies and suggest an effective treatment plan for you.