Your allergies may change or disappear as you get older.
Maybe you’ve been petting the family cat since it was a kitten, but now being in the same room with beloved pet leaves you puffy-eyed and wheezing. And for the first time in years, you find yourself sneezing uncontrollably whenever the wind blows.
Seasonal allergies affect more than 50 million people in the United States. “Most people tend to experience more severe symptoms from age five to eighteen. Then there’s generally a period of relief before the condition returns,” says Dr. Ameet Kamat, Otolaryngologist/Sinus Specialist for White Plains Hospital Physician Associates. “Allergies can return anytime between your twenties and forties when you’re exposed to an allergy trigger such as plants or pets. If a person’s exposure is reduced or kept under control through treatment, their seasonal allergies will likely dissipate.”
Allergies can shift and change at different times of your life. Fortunately, many of us will experience relief as we get older.
Allergy sufferers produce the antibody Immunoglobulin E (IgE) when exposed to things like ragweed, cat hair or pollen. IgE sets off a chain reaction that results in sneezing, sniffling, and red, itchy eyes. Your immune system produces less IgE with age, so your symptoms may wane.
Stifle Your Sniffles
To determine what you’re allergic to an allergy specialist will conduct a skin prick test in which small amounts of up to 60 kinds of allergens are injected in your arm. If you’re allergic to any of them, a red bump will rise, indicating the presence of an allergy antibody. Treatment options can range from taking drugstore antihistamine medications to nasal steroid and antihistamine sprays to immunotherapy, in which patients are injected with increasing doses of allergens until their body stops reacting to them.
There are several steps you can take to keep allergens out of your house:
- Keep windows and doors closed. Use air conditioning in warm weather to control dust mites and reduce humidity.
- Clean your house once a week with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorbing filter) vacuum.
- Encase pillows, mattresses and box springs in dust-mite-proof covers. Wash sheets, pillowcases and blankets at least once a week in hot water to avoid dust mites.
- Keep an eye on the pollen count. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s National Allergy Bureau has pollen count stations throughout the U.S.
If you’ve found yourself feeling a bit off this spring and you can’t pinpoint what’s causing it – see an allergist. Avoiding exposure to irritants and testing can help you identify exactly what’s triggering your symptoms now, and help you avoid it in the future.