Can you develop new allergies as you age?
You usually sail through allergy season with nary a sniffle, but this year your eyes are itching and a rash has popped up. Or maybe you recently adopted a cat and your nose has been running ever since. What’s causing these problems? You’ve never had allergies before. Can you develop new allergies as you age?
David Amrol, MD, explained what typically happens when you develop symptoms of new allergies as you age and what you can do to relieve discomfort.
Can you develop seasonal allergies as an adult?
“Most people who develop seasonal allergies have a genetic predisposition to be allergic,” Dr. Amrol said. “So, most of the time, their allergies will start after the age of one or two. Other people can develop seasonal allergies up until their twenties. But some people with no previous history can develop it in their forties or fifties or even later.”
Classic symptoms of seasonal allergies include:
- Itchy eyes
- Runny nose
- Postnasal drip
Dr. Amrol said there are a few risk factors that can contribute to the development of seasonal allergies. “If someone has another condition, like eczema or asthma or a food allergy, they’re much more likely to have allergic rhinitis. Family history is also a risk factor.”
Can you develop pet allergies?
If you’ve grown up with pets, it’s hard to imagine becoming allergic to them. But doctors have noticed what they’ve called the Thanksgiving effect. This is where children have grown up with pets and have no problems. Then they go away to college and after several months of avoidance, they come back and have some symptoms.
“Being born into a house with pets and having constant exposure can be a benefit,” said Dr. Amrol. “If we lose that exposure, no matter at what age, it’s possible to get allergic rhinitis. Most of the time it’s going to happen, or at least something’s going to start, within the first three decades, but not always.”
What can you do to relieve your allergy symptoms?
If you think you have an allergy, see your doctor so they can help you identify the allergy and discuss possible treatment. Allergies can be managed through a variety of over-the-counter and prescription treatment options, including:
- Nasal steroids
- Saline rinses
- Allergy shots
- Environmental control (avoiding the allergen)
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