What Causes Allergies in Adulthood?

What Causes Allergies in Adulthood?

When your body is under attack from viruses, bacteria, germs and other things that can lead to disorders, diseases, and other problems, it’s your immune system that helps to fight off the invading substances and works to keep you healthy. This loose network of blood cells, proteins, antibodies, lymph nodes, tonsils, adenoids, bone marrow, skin, and mucosa all work to destroy invading cells and organisms, keep them out, limit their damage, and help you heal and adapt to prevent future harm.

Your immune system can overreact to foreign substances that may not be harmful, leading to allergic reactions that can come from many different things. Many of these allergies develop in childhood, but some people may not experience them until adulthood. To better understand why adults may experience this, let’s explore the basics of allergies, the factors that lead to them in adults, and what can be done to prevent and treat them.

Residents of the Kissimmee or Orlando, Florida area dealing with allergies in adulthood can find help from Drs. Wade Han, Elivira Livigni De Armas, and their experienced medical staff at Florida Ear Nose Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery Center.

Allergy basics

With allergies, when your body’s immune system abnormally reacts to harmless foreign substances either through ingestion, in direct contact with, or from your environment (referred to as allergens), immunoglobulin E (IgE) is produced in response to antibodies. IgE binds to mast (allergy) cells that live in numerous areas (your skin, airways, membranes in hollow organs), and when it finds the allergens, it takes to these cells and attaches them to unique receptors. This results in the release of histamines, and that causes your allergic response.

Allergies affect over 50 million people in the U.S. alone, and the most common types are found in foods, inhalants (particles in your environment that you inhale), medications, insect bites, and latex.

Factors that contribute to adult allergies

Depending on the specific allergens, adult allergies can start either as you enter adulthood (late teens or early 20s) or in much later years (70 or older). About 10% of developing allergies happen in adults due to foods (shellfish, milk, soy, wheat, and tree nuts), pollen, animal dander, dust mites, and mold. Other contributing factors include family history, antibiotic overuse, moving to a new place, stress, and little to no exposure to something during childhood.

Prevention and treatment

Here are some options for coping with and preventing allergic reactions:

Allergen avoidance

Once the allergens causing your distress have been determined, make a concerted effort to avoid them or clean areas where they may be present. For food allergies, be sure to read the ingredients of the foods you eat.


Over-the-counter drugs like antihistamines can help to reduce allergy symptoms, and several prescription medications are available in tablet, spray, or even injection form (allergy shots). Steroid creams can be used to help with skin allergies, and in the case of extreme allergic responses, epinephrine injectors (epi-pens) are essential to keep airways open.

Adult onset allergies are fairly common, but there are many ways to address them and we can help. So, if you’re struggling with the effects of an allergic reaction and can’t control it, make an appointment with Drs. Han, Livigni De Armas, and the Florida Ear Nose Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery Center team today. 

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