Allergies and Aging: How Allergies Evolve as You Get Older

The human body changes in many ways as we age, and allergies are no exception. Some people develop allergies as they get older, while others outgrow them. Allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe, and some allergies can even produce life-threatening reactions. If you think you might have allergies, it’s a good idea to visit an allergist in Las Vegas for testing and a diagnosis to properly manage your allergies and help you feel better.

What Causes Allergies?

Allergies arise when your body considers common substances a threat and overreacts. While allergens are not actually harmful, the body considers them to be a threat, which triggers an immune response that creates antibodies to destroy the perceived pathogens. Once the body determines that a particular substance is threatening, it will continue to produce the same response whenever you come into contact with that substance.

Who Gets Allergies?

Allergies can develop at any time. Some people have a genetic predisposition to allergies and are more likely to get allergies when they are young, while allergies can also arise in adults. The immune system continues to change as people age, which means that just because you didn’t have allergies as a child doesn’t mean you won’t get them later on, and if you had an allergy-free childhood, you might still end up with allergies as an adult. Along with the fact that you might gain or lose allergies throughout your life, the symptoms you experience may also change. For instance, you might have a mild reaction to a certain allergen early on, but your symptoms may worsen over time. Contrarily, you might have a severe allergy initially that becomes less serious or even goes away as you age.

What Allergies Are Common in Children?

Children, like adults, may be more likely to be diagnosed with certain allergies. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) estimates that up to 40% of children have an allergy to mold, medicine, pets, latex, insects, pollen, or food.

What Are Common Allergies in Adults?

Some allergies are more likely to appear in adults. Common adult-onset allergies include ragweed and animal allergies, including cats and dogs. Sometimes, you might initially have no problem with these allergens at all, but over time, you begin to develop an intolerance to exposure. If you have seasonal allergies, climate change can make your allergies worse, as the change in weather and climate can prolong allergy season.

While some allergies typically appear in either children or adults, you may be allergic to a substance earlier or later in life that generally affects older or younger people. Therefore, even if you are reacting to a substance that doesn’t normally affect your age group, it’s a good idea to visit an allergist for comprehensive testing to ensure you get properly treated for any allergies that you do have.

How to Tell if You Have Allergies


There are many possible allergies, and you may have a different reaction based on your type of allergy. Mild allergies are usually caused by environmental factors.

Symptoms of mild allergies include:

  • Runny nose
  • Sinus pressure
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Hives
  • Nasal congestion

Sometimes, allergies can produce more serious reactions. That’s typical of food allergies, which may cause the following reactions that may be life-threatening:

  • Constricted airways
  • Low blood pressure
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Swollen tongue or lips
  • Gastrointestinal issues

Allergies Can Develop Gradually

Sometimes, such as with food allergies, a reaction may be sudden and severe. However, in many cases, allergies develop slowly over time. That’s especially true with environmental and seasonal allergies. Additionally, some allergy symptoms tend to appear earlier on. Outdoor allergens tend to produce less noticeable reactions initially, as they occur seasonally, which means your body needs to be exposed to those allergens multiple times, over the course of several seasons, to develop a sensitivity. On the other hand, indoor allergens tend to cause reactions sooner upon exposure, as you’re exposed to allergens in your indoor living environment more frequently.

Hay Fever and Other Allergies

In people up to 20 years old, hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, is responsible for many allergic reactions. Allergens, including dust, pets, and pollen, trigger most allergic reactions in younger people. After age 20, allergists believe that most reactions are caused by substances such as environmental irritants, chemicals, smoke, and hormonal changes. Structural defects in the nose itself can also cause non-allergic rhinitis.

The Allergic March

An ‘allergic march’ is a term that immunologists and allergists use to describe the series of allergic diseases that may start early in life and change as a person ages.

Eczema is a skin rash that produces itchy skin and discomfort. Eczema is prevalent among infants, and it may occur in up to 20% of all babies. Many children who have allergies also have eczema.

Food allergies often develop at a young age, starting as young as one year old. About eight percent of children have a food allergy. Food allergies to soy, wheat, egg, and milk are sometimes outgrown, while allergies to other food substances, including tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, and fish, tend to be lifelong allergies.

Asthma sometimes goes hand-in-hand with allergies. Asthma typically shows up at a young age, between one and two, and it is characterized by wheezing and coughing. Asthma appears in about 8.4% of children. As with allergies, you can also develop asthma as an adult.

Allergic rhinitis may appear anytime from childhood through early adulthood.

Who is at Risk for Allergies?

People who have a history of allergies in their families may be more likely to develop allergies, as family members may have common genetics that makes them predisposed to getting allergies. Sometimes, allergies develop spontaneously due to exposure to certain foods, chemicals, or environmental elements that you are sensitive to. Many environmental allergies develop in children when they are exposed to outside stimuli for the first time, such as pollen, insects, and grass. If you notice that your child suddenly starts experiencing any of the symptoms above after spending time outside, contact a pediatric immunologist in Las Vegas to schedule an appointment and get your child tested for possible allergies.

How are Allergies Diagnosed?

If you think you have allergies, make an appointment with an allergist in Las Vegas to start. An allergist will ask about your symptoms and any family history of allergies. If your doctor thinks you have allergies, you will also likely undergo allergy testing. One common allergy test involves your allergist placing small samples of potential allergens on the surface of your skin, called a skin prick test, to see if you develop any reactions. Food allergy testing in Las Vegas for mild symptoms may include a food challenge test, where you ingest small amounts of the food you might be allergic to and record any reactions. A blood test may also be ordered to check for allergies.

Allergy Treatments

Once you have an allergy diagnosis, your doctor will prescribe a treatment plan, which may include medications, allergy shots, over-the-counter medications, and making lifestyle changes to reduce exposure.

You can make an appointment at Tottori Allergy and Asthma by scheduling an appointment online or calling (702) 240 4233 today.