Allergies come in many forms. You might be allergic to food and drink items. Or you might be allergic to ingredients in your shampoo or soap. You could also be allergic to a wide range of environmental factors such as pet hair, dust mites or pollen.
Symptoms of an allergic reaction can be mild to severe. Seasonal hay fever can produce mild symptoms such as itchy eyes. But someone with a peanut allergy might suffer an anaphylactic shock if they come into contact with any peanuts. And this can be deadly if not treated in time.
What are the most common allergies in adults?
The most common food allergies that restaurants and takeaways need to inform their customers about are:
- Cereals containing gluten (such as barley and oats)
- Crustaceans (such as prawns, crabs and lobsters)
- Molluscs (such as mussels and oysters)
- Sulphur dioxide and sulphites (if they are at a concentration of more than ten parts per million)
- Tree nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts)
From a broader perspective, the 10 most common allergies are:
- Dust mites
- Animal dander
- Insect stings
- Food allergens
- Overactive immune system
The symptoms of these allergies will vary depending on the severity of your response. The response could be localised, such as with a latex allergy. This might mean your skin becomes red, itchy or blistered when you touch anything containing latex.
On the other end of the allergy spectrum, you could have a full-body reaction. This is known as anaphylaxis. This is most common with food allergies and will require an immediate dose of epinephrine. Many people with food allergies will carry this with them at all times.
How can I find out what I’m allergic to?
Common symptoms of allergies include:
- Sneezing, with a runny or blocked nose
- Itchy eyes, red and watery
- Wheezing and chest tightness
- A raised red rash that is itchy
- Swollen lips, tongue, eyes or face
- Stomach pain, including vomiting or diarrhoea
If you notice you have these symptoms, you should keep a diary to note any symptoms. You can have an allergy test at the doctors to determine which allergens cause a reaction. This will typically involve pricking your skin and placing the allergen on the skin. The doctor will then wait to see which allergens cause your skin to react.
Can allergies start later in life?
Yes, you can develop allergies later in life. Many people grow out of allergies in their 20s and 30s as their bodies learn to adapt to the allergen. However, it’s not uncommon for allergies to develop later in life. You could develop an allergy to something that has never been an issue before.
Why am I suddenly getting allergies?
Seasonal and pet allergies are the most common allergies to develop later in life. Scientists don’t fully understand why it happens but suspect it can be caused by the following factors.
- Exposure to allergens when your immune system is compromised. This could include when you are sick, pregnant or have a condition that impacts your immune system.
- Having very little exposure to the allergen as a child. Your body may have never come into contact with the allergen in large enough quantities until adulthood.
- Moving house or offices. This could introduce new allergens. This is particularly common for seasonal allergies when people move to new areas.
- Getting a pet for the first time. If you haven’t been exposed to pets for a long time, sudden exposure could trigger a reaction.
If you are suddenly suffering from allergies, think about any changes you have made in your life. You may have moved to a new area with different plant life. Or you may have brought a furry friend home for the first time.
The good news is that allergies that develop in adulthood will typically start to diminish once you reach your 50s. There are also plenty of daily allergy medications you can take to control your allergies. Antihistamines help to control your immune response to allergens. To make sure you never run out of antihistamines, order online from Live Well Nationwide.