How Common are Adult-Onset Allergies?

You may think of an allergy as a health condition that develops in childhood. Although this is true to some extent — many allergies first appear in babies, toddlers, and children — allergies may also occur for the first time when you’re an adult.

In fact, it’s not unusual for the first allergic symptoms to show up when people are in their 40s, 50s, 60s, or beyond.

An allergy is an immune-system reaction to a foreign substance, or allergen. People with allergies react to substances that they inhale, touch, or eat. More than 50 million Americans have allergies.

The family medicine professionals at New Hope Medical Clinic in Gastonia, North Carolina, would like to share some important information with you about adult-onset allergies. Knowing what allergies are and how to identify them can help you and your family stay healthy.

Food Allergies

Health care providers see it all the time. An adult has an allergic reaction to a food but can’t believe the food has caused the reaction. “But I’ve eaten that food a thousand times!” the patient says. “I can’t possibly be allergic to it.”

Yes, you can. Food allergies can develop at any age. In fact, 45% of all food allergies in adults develop not in childhood, but in adulthood.

The most common food allergy among adults is shellfish, affecting an estimated 3.6% of U.S. adults. And roughly 1.8% of adults in the U.S. have tree nut allergies.

In addition to shellfish and tree nuts, other common food allergens include milk, eggs, peanuts, soy, fish, and wheat (and other grains with gluten, such as barley and rye).

Respiratory Allergies

Asthma and nasal allergies — also known as allergic rhinitis — can also kick off during adulthood. Typically, respiratory allergies are caused by pollen, dust, mold, pet dander, and other environmental allergens.

Adults may develop seasonal allergies (hay fever) or asthma, a disease in which your airways become swollen or blocked in response to allergens and other triggers.

In women, hormonal fluctuations may contribute to adult-onset allergies. For example, many women first develop asthma during or after pregnancy. And menopause can trigger asthma symptoms, too.

Look Out for Allergy Symptoms

It’s important to know the symptoms of an allergic reaction because severe reactions can be life-threatening. Be on the lookout for the following symptoms:

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek appropriate medical attention.

Reacting to a Reaction

If you or someone you’re with experiences a serious allergic reaction, call 911. If the reaction is less severe, your health care providers at New Hope Medical Clinic can perform allergy testing that quickly identifies what’s causing your symptoms. New Hope Medical Clinic uses modern allergy tests that are much more convenient and accurate than those used in the past.

We can also create effective allergy treatment plans that are personalized to your situation, age, and health needs.

Call New Hope Medical Clinic today for an appointment or book your visit online through this website.

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