If you or your child are among the 50 million Americans who live with allergies, you understand how they can cause reactions that can interfere with daily life and, in severe cases, jeopardize your health. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if allergies could lessen and even disappear over time?
Some can. Depending on the type of allergy you experience, it may be possible to outgrow these annoying and debilitating conditions.
The providers at Macomb Medical Clinic in Sterling Heights, Michigan, can help you determine the source of your allergies and whether you’ve outgrown them based on a comprehensive examination, medical history, and in-office allergy testing. If your allergies remain active, we identify your allergens and recommend ways to manage symptoms and protect your well-being.
An allergy is your immune system’s response to a specific foreign substance, called an allergen. When your body encounters the substance, it overreacts, releasing immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies, to protect itself from harm.
Unfortunately, these antibodies that are intended to protect you produce substances, including histamine, that cause wheezing, hives, and coughing within 15-30 minutes of your contact with the allergen.
You can develop an allergy to foods and virtually all types of substances. Allergies triggered by pollen from weeds, trees, and grasses are called hay fever.
Timing of allergies
It’s possible for you or your child to outgrow allergies. Naturally outgrowing allergies may occur as your body develops tolerance to an allergen the more often it’s exposed to the substance.
While allergies often make their first appearance during childhood or young adulthood, they can emerge at any time in your life. Food and medicine allergies may appear during your first encounters with the allergens that trigger them. However, evidence of seasonal allergies may occur as you age and are more frequently exposed to environmental allergens such as pollen.
Outgrowing allergies occurs on an individual basis. You may experience a less intense allergic reaction than you did when you were younger or even have a complete loss of reaction to a specific allergen.
Types of allergies
Certain food allergies — such eggs, milk, soy, and wheat — are common types that may be outgrown by the teenage years.
Up to 80% of children who experience a milk or egg allergy during childhood develop the tolerance to consume these foods without a reaction by the time they’re 16 years old. Children who have these allergies but can consume milk or egg in a baked form are more likely to develop a tolerance to consuming the foods individually as they grow.
However, maturity doesn’t help all types of food allergies. Foods that cause severe food reactions — such as peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, and finned fish — are less likely to lessen with age. The likelihood of outgrowing these types of allergies: 20% for those with a peanut allergy, 14% for those with a tree nut allergy, and 4%-5% for those with a shellfish allergy.
While it’s possible to outgrow hay fever and environmental allergies such as dust and mold, that’s less common than outgrowing some food allergies.
While you may notice a reduced reaction to a specific allergen over time, allergy testing is the best way to confirm your status concerning a specific allergen.
A food challenge test is an accurate way to determine whether you or your child has outgrown a specific food allergy. This test involves administering a specific allergen in small amounts for about 4-6 hours and recording your reaction.
Because you typically have to discontinue allergy medication before the test to get an accurate result, and the possibility exists of triggering an extreme response if your allergy remains, a food challenge should only be done at a medical office under the supervision of a physician.
If you suspect that you’ve outgrown another type of allergy, other forms of allergy testing, such as blood tests and skin testing, can determine your allergy status.
Find out more about the possibility of outgrowing allergies and hay fever and how to manage these conditions when they exist. Schedule a consultation with the team at Macomb Medical Clinic by calling the office today.