September 9, 2018

Can You Outgrow Allergies?

We’ve all heard of “miracle” recoveries, like when someone with a serious illness suddenly recovers, or when someone who’s been badly injured walks again. Overcoming the odds can happen in any medical situation, including allergies. As with other fields of medicine, doctors can’t fully explain sudden allergy recoveries. But what they do know is that the immune system is responsible for both developing and beating allergies. When you go for allergy testing, your allergist can explain how the immune system works and what the odds are for outgrowing the allergies.

What Causes Allergies?

Allergies are an overreaction by a person’s immune system to a substance that’s not by nature harmful. Plant and tree pollen, animal fur, bee venom, and certain foods are good examples. However, in people with allergies, the body considers these harmless substances to be “invaders.” In response, the immune system attacks the invading substance much as it would attack other pathogens, such as viruses. Allergies can start at a young age, but they can also develop over the course of a person’s lifetime.

What Are The Odds Of Outgrowing Allergies?

For reasons that scientists still don’t understand, it seems that people can suddenly develop and outgrow allergies. There are several theories about why some people might beat allergies but not others. One is age. According to foodallergy.org, researchers believe that children who develop allergies at a younger age (specifically under the age of six), and who have more mild reactions to the allergen, are more likely to outgrow their allergy. In people of all ages, having frequent but low-level exposure to the allergen, especially if it’s a food allergy, can decrease the body’s sensitivity to the substance over time. In turn, this causes the body’s immune system to respond less forcefully to the allergen.

Are Some Allergies Easier To Outgrow Than Others?

Research is continuing in this field, and it’s providing some interesting results. Foodallergy.org reports that studies are ongoing to determine which allergens, if any, people are most likely to shed. Surprisingly, it appears that non-peanut nut allergies, which were previously believed to be among the most severe and long-lasting allergies, are one of the most likely types of allergies that can be beaten. Soy, egg, and milk allergies may also be easier to overcome. In contrast, people with shellfish allergies and peanut allergies are less likely to overcome their allergies. This is especially true for people who develop allergies later in life. Individuals with only one allergy are more likely to beat their allergy, as are people who have had reactions earlier in life.

The area of allergy research is continually evolving, and studies keep emerging with more information about allergies, including what causes them, who gets them, and whether or not they can be overcome. Of course, just because you or your child “may” overcome an allergy doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen! When in doubt, talk to an allergist for more information about a specific allergy and how to manage it.