How Common Are Adult-Onset Allergies?

An allergy is your body’s reaction to something it mistakenly views as hostile — and typically these allergies make themselves known during your younger years. But sometimes changes happen when you’re an adult, and things that once posed no problem — think food, dogs, pollen — all of a sudden send your body into an allergic response. Why now?

At Kirill Zhadovich, MD, our team understands the complexity of allergies and they’re not confined to the younger population. Adult-onset allergies are very common, and here we take a look at some of the more prevalent adult allergies and why they may develop so late in the game.

Food allergies

More than 10% of the population in the United States has a food allergy, and half of these numbers developed the allergy in adulthood. The most common culprits when it comes to food allergies in adults are:

  • Shellfish
  • Peanuts
  • Milk
  • Tree nuts
  • Fin fish

While adult-onset food allergies do occur with some regularity and usually come because of a change in your immune system, many adults develop a food intolerance, which is different from an allergy.

The best way to find out whether your reaction to a certain food is allergy-related is to undergo testing. This is important because treating an allergy versus managing an intolerance are two very different approaches.

Spring fever

You’ve greeted every spring with joy as you revel in the ability to get outside without any issues. Then, one year, the experience is marred by spring allergies. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why allergic rhinitis develops in adults, but they have unearthed many factors that may contribute to the late problem, such as:

  • An excessively heavy pollen year
  • A change in geography (you’re exposed to different allergens)
  • An inherited risk for allergic rhinitis

In some cases, you may have had allergies all along, but the symptoms weren’t enough to make you sit up and take notice. As you get older, however, your body is more sensitive, which can magnify your symptoms.

Environmental change

Many adult-onset allergies develop when there’s a significant change in your environment. For example, you’ve always been a cat person, but your child or partner brings home a dog one day, and you find yourself struggling with allergic symptoms.

These types of changes mean that the allergy was present all along, but it only becomes evident as your exposure is heightened.

This applies to the change in geography we mentioned above. If you’ve recently moved to Illinois, you may find yourself with an allergy toward a plant or flower that wasn’t part of your previous landscape.

Stay in the know

The bottom line is that the best way to find out whether your adult-onset symptoms stem from an allergy is to have us test you. Allergy testing is fairly simple, and it delivers information that we can act on to better control your new allergy.

To learn more about adult-onset allergies and testing, please call our office in Niles, Illinois, to set up an appointment.


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