If Seasonal Allergies Don’t Get You, Adult Onset Allergies Can
Summertime allergies are often “hit or miss” depending on geography. Pollen counts are a bother for some, while increased humidity brings others difficulty with mold spores.
Even those who are not susceptible to seasonal allergies can have their share of challenges as they get older. For instance, many people live through childhood sleeping with their pet puppies in bed, jumping on dust filled couches, and picking weeds to give to their moms. They do this without a sneeze or runny nose. Those same happy children grow up, and when they hit their 20s or 30s, they suddenly develop allergies.
Here’s a question posed by an adult on an allergy forum who suddenly displayed allergy symptoms at age 42…
“All of a sudden certain perfumes irritate me. Laundry detergents make me itch and even some mixed drinks make me itch after I drink them. I am 42. What could be going on?”
Adult-Onset Allergies can develop at any age. The most accepted theory to why this happens is that immune systems do not fully develop in childhood due to a lack of exposure to many viruses, bacterium, and allergens that many of us encountered as kids in the past. When immune systems aren’t faced with dust, pollen, and mold, they don’t fully develop the ability to combat those allergens in the future. After 20 years of exposure to these allergens, your weak immune system fails, and the result is adult-onset-allergies.
Over the years, we tend to put on weight. A recent study found women with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more had three times the risk of allergies compared to women with BMIs less than 20. The connection may be due to more fat cells, which release inflammatory chemicals that can contribute to allergies.
A significant proportion of adult-onset asthma is related to workplace exposure, accounting for 9-to-15 percent of all cases. Workplace stress can contribute to asthma in adults as well. Research scientist, Dr. Yacoub, studied adult onset asthma and found that patients with occupational asthma are highly anxious and many are chronically depressed.
There is an association between adult-onset asthma and GERD, especially in those with wheezing that is worse at night, when supine, or after meals, and in those with no previous history of allergies. Studies have revealed that by treating the reflux in these patients there is an improvement in their respiratory symptoms and a decreased need for asthma medications.
The good news is, allergy medications can help you minimize, or even eliminate, your allergy symptoms.
In 1937, Daniel Bovet synthesized the first antihistamine drug. He and his colleagues found that antihistamines, while blocking the effects of the chemical histamine, also protected against some of the symptoms of anaphylaxis (severe, potentially life threatening allergic reaction with breathing problems). Today, antihistamine drugs like Clarinex are effective in treating the sneezing and runny nose associated with hay fever; the itching, swelling, and redness of hives; and some other allergic rashes.
Also, results from an environmental study demonstrated that Patanol prescription antihistimine eye drops were effective in treating the symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis when dosed twice daily for up to six weeks.
In 1948, Philip Hench and Edward Kendall discovered and introduced corticosteroids into clinical medicine. These drugs were found to be effective in the treatment of asthma, as well as immediate and delayed allergic reactions.
Corticosteroids like Nasonex, Flonase, and Nasacort have significantly improved the lives of today’s allergy sufferers. Each of these nasal sprays is made to treat bothersome allergy symptoms, with similar active ingredients. However, Flonase is the only product that can be used by children as young as four years old to treat their seasonal or year round allergy symptoms.
How to Steer Clear of Allergies (As Best You Can)
By combining environmental changes with preventive medication, a healthy diet, weight loss and stress management tools, you are sure to be better able to control both allergy and asthma symptoms.