How Do Allergies Change Over Time?
Allergies of different kinds affect hundreds of millions of people all over the world. While we still don’t know much about them, allergies are becoming more and more common.
Fortunately, according to experts, as we get older, changes happening in our bodies and in external environment affect the way we response to various irritants, including allergy triggers. This means that in many cases, allergies become less prevalent over some time. There are several reasons leading to a different allergy status, and we will discuss a few of them below.
Some Allergies Are Likely to Be Outgrown
To start with, here’s a little bit of statistics. In around 60-80 percent of cases, milk and egg allergies in children are outgrown by the age of 16. Kids allergic to peanuts outgrow their allergies in 20 percent of cases, and those with tree nut allergies – in 14 percent of cases. As little as 4 to 5 percent of children with a shellfish allergy age out of their condition.
At the moment, researchers have no idea why some children do outgrow their food allergies and others don’t. While there are some general observations and hypotheses, they don’t provide a concrete explanation.
For example, some experts have a theory that the earlier a child react to a food allergen, the higher are the chances of outgrowing the allergy. In addition, exposing a child to small amounts of food allergens from an early age is considered to help prevent food allergies.
Scientists have also observed a tendency, according to which people who haven’t outgrown childhood allergies by their twenties are more likely to have it for a lifetime.
Hormonal Changes May Affect Your Allergy
Some people believe that there is a link between hormonal changes happening in your body and the way your immune system reacts to allergy triggers. Females experience more hormonal shifts throughout their life because of the menstrual cycles. They also experience more autoimmune diseases and immune reactions, which may indicate that female sex hormones do affect the immune system. Changes in hormonal balance affect asthma and other allergies. In some women, the symptoms of asthma tend to get worse during certain periods of the menstrual cycle because of the effect of estrogen and other hormones.
Some studies also suggest that allergic changes are likely to occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause, but there is very few evidence. Other factors that can influence your immune system’s response to allergy and asthma triggers include weight gain and obesity.
In addition, allergic responses may change in older people, due to a decrease in allergy-inducing antibodies. For instance, those who used to react severely to pollen or food may become tolerant to these allergens. However, this may also go both ways. Thus, people who used to eat seafood nearly every day may develop a shellfish allergy, when they are older.
Environmental Changes Have a Big Impact on Your Allergy
Many people with allergies, especially seasonal types, experience shifts in their symptoms throughout their lifetime. While changes in your body do influence your allergies, shifts in seasonal allergies are rather a result of environmental changes.
Depending on where you live, there is a whole set of allergens that may trigger your symptoms, and every time you move to a new a place, the set of potential allergy triggers changes. As a result, your allergy may improve or become even worse. This is also relevant, when you change your job or school.
Allergic reactions may also take time to appear. For example, during your first summer in Tennessee, you may be absolutely tolerant to ragweed pollen, but the next summer, you may be suffering during the whole pollen season.
Some People Have Allergies for Life
In some cases, you just can’t do anything but accept your allergy and try to control the symptoms for the rest of your life. Experts are still far from understanding why some people are prone to allergies, while others can easily tolerate the allergens. One thing is clear, however: having one allergy increases your risk for developing another one. Unless you are able to totally avoid exposure to allergy triggers, you will probably have this condition for life.
What is more, there are also people with atopy, which is a genetic predisposition to developing allergies. If you have atopy, getting in contact with any allergen will trigger a serious reaction. Asthma and eczema are also more likely to affect atopic people. While there are various treatments that can help, such as corticosteroids or immunotherapy, they can’t help you get rid of this disorder.
The Bottom Line
Surely, there are many other factors out there that affect your allergies, but we don’t know about them yet. Many of our questions concerning allergies still remain unanswered. However, allergy research has been increasing recently, which hopefully means we will have the answers soon.
If allergies bother you, experts recommend getting personalized help. Arrange a visit to an allergist, and the doctor will help to find the best way to manage an allergy, in your case.