Can You Grow Out Of Allergies?

Can You Grow Out Of An Allergy?

If you have a child with an allergy, at some stage someone will tell you 'not to worry' because chances are your child will probably 'grow out of it'. So, do all children shake off their allergies as they get older? And if so, does that mean the underlying disease (the cause) is cured? And furthermore, why treat an allergy if they disappear on their own anyway?

There is no simple answer to this question - the connection between allergies and age is quite complex and not well understood. The best a doctor can do is give you a broad overview. It seems to be true that classic allergies such as hay fever, atopic eczema and childhood asthma often disappear as children grow up. Babies tend to shrug off eczema and food allergies by the time they start to walk and asthmatic kids tend to grow out of their symptoms by the age of 10. However, just because the symptoms disappear doesn't mean that the underlying disease is cured. Quite a few adults who were asthmatic as kids, find themselves wheezy and breathless again in their 20s, 30s, especially if they take up smoking. Realistically anyone who had asthma as a child should always consider themselves at risk and should therefore be extra careful with their health - not take up smoking and avoid strenuous sports in the cold air (like skiing). Anyone who had eczema as a child should choose natural cosmetics and soaps as adults, always choose 'gentle' brands.

In the meantime, if you have a child with asthma - it's good to know that eventually they are likely to grow out it. However there will be several wheezy or itchy years to deal with until they become allergy-free. Treating the symptoms in this case helps children live 'normal' lives but also prevents any long-term damage such as loss of elasticity or thickening of the airways which can occur in children with untreated asthma. At the same time as treating the symptoms, parents can increase the odds of a child growing out of allergies by providing an environment that reduces the chance of new allergies developing (for example using allergen-proof covers designed to protect against house-dust mites).

Allergies That Start In Adults

So what about allergies that start in adulthood. Can you grow out of those? Not many people develop allergies as adults, although the numbers are on the increase. The older you are when your allergy begins, the less likely you are to grow out of it. Do remember however, there is a difference between allergy and an intolerance. See: what is an allergy?, to understand the difference. Food intolerances are very common in adults, particularly in women entering their menopause years.

• Need more information about allergies? See:

Are allergies becoming more common? Read about the statistics.
What are the signs of hay fever? Recognise the symptoms.
Can allergies kill you? When a bee sting or a kiss could be fatal!
Do allergies run in families? Discover the DNA connection.
What is hay fever? Medical definition of this condition.

• Got another question? See: Allergy Questions

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