Just because you were lucky enough to skate through adolescence and childhood without allergies doesn’t mean that you are immune to allergies for life. Developing adult-onset allergic reactions is quite possible irrespective of your age. Even the elderly can also develop food and seasonal allergies.
In this article, we’ll explain the causes of allergies as you age. We’ll also elaborate more on what will happen if adult-onset allergies are not treated and the types of seasonal and food allergies that affect the elderly.
Can You Develop Allergies as You Get Older?
Allergies develop when your immunity identifies dander, mold, or pollen as foreign objects. There is still a lot that experts don’t know about allergic reactions, including what causes them in some cases. However, there are numerous theories that explain why we develop allergies as we grow older, with most of them focusing on the high concentration of airborne pollutants, sedentary lifestyle, dietary factors, rising dust mite population, and fewer ventilators in offices and homes.
However, the elderly are at higher risk of developing allergic reactions due to their ageing immunity. The changes in the immunity of their digestive tracts play a key role in developing food allergies too.
What Are the Symptoms of Allergies as You Get Older?
Allergies can affect everyone differently, with some people exhibiting unique symptoms. These symptoms vary with the type of allergy affecting you. However, increased dryness or slower mucociliary transport time has been observed at the nasal mucosa. These age-related changes may result in:
- Nasal obstruction
Other types of breathing allergies include allergic asthma which targets the respiratory system and develops when there are increasing amounts of airborne allergens or polluted indoor air quality.
Food and skin allergies among the elderly are also common and can manifest as:
- Contact dermatitis
- Bumps or hives
In severe cases, some allergies can also result in anaphylactic shock. If you or a loved one experience difficulty breathing or a severe allergic reaction, contact a medical professional immediately.
What Are the Common Food Allergies Among the Elderly?
As we age, we tend to experience mild symptoms that are usually nonspecific when we consume certain types of foods. As we age, however, our immune systems can react differently to foods we have consumed our entire life! The most common food allergens among the elderly include:
- Tree nuts
Do Allergic Reactions Increase With Age?
Over 20% of the reported allergy cases occur when people are in the early 50s or late 40s. And that is due to the changes in their immunity that is actually a natural part of ageing.
However, it’s quite rare to develop allergies for the first time at an even older age. Usually, some symptoms of intolerance would have been present throughout earlier years.
What Gets Rid of Allergies Faster?
Some of the natural methods of dealing with allergies faster among older people include:
FAQ's - You Ask, We Answer
Can Allergies Worsen as You Age?
Allergy sufferers tend to experience severe symptoms, from 5 to 16 years old. And then get almost 20 years of relief before allergies can return in their 30s onwards. The symptoms may then disappear for good at age 65 in healthy individuals though lifestyle factors are one of the most important elements which determine if you’ll be off the hook and overcome your allergies.
Can You Develop Allergies Later in Life Out of Nowhere?
Adult-onset allergies are certainly possible and can affect you at any age. Such allergies can start, seemingly out of nowhere, usually due to exposure to new allergens in your environment.
It is also possible that your immune system has reached its maximum limit and any existing allergens in your environment may trigger new reactions that were not there before.
In any case, there are a number of reasons why you might experience allergies out of the blue including:
- Lifestyle factors
- Overall health
- New allergens in your environment
- Family history
- Any other changes to your immune system.
Can Allergies Get Better With Age?
As mysterious as allergies are, there are a few things that are not entirely consistent across diverse populations. Mainly this is due to the fact that allergies really do depend on each individual’s immune system.
In some individuals, allergies can entirely disappear. Even in old age, some individuals find that allergies disappear after the age of 65. Changes to your immune system and your overall health condition can influence whether your allergies will diminish over time as well.
What Will Happen if Allergies Are Not Treated?
Untreated allergies can result in other complications in the body. For example, if allergic rhinitis is left untreated for a very long time, it can result in ear infections and sinus infections due to swelling and inflammation. Untreated allergies can provide a perfect breeding place for bacteria to grow and cause such infections. Untreated allergies can also worsen other conditions, such as skin disorders, inflammation in the body and asthma.
While it is entirely possible, and common, for allergies to worsen with age, older generations may also experience diminished allergic reactions after the age of 65. Really though, allergies are still something of a mystery to researchers and happen on an individual basis, so it can be difficult to know if you’re stuck with your allergies for life or not!
In saying this, proactively maintaining a healthy lifestyle, an allergen-free household and boosting your immune system may help diminish your allergic reactions over time.