Brand New to Allergies: Part Two
In part one of this post I talked about my personal story of my new onset allergies. Something I had never dealt with before in my life. I was one of the asthmatics without any allergies at all, until I started randomly experiencing the watery, itchy eyes and mild asthma flare-up symptoms about a month and a half ago.
What was so puzzling to me was the fact that these allergy symptoms started during our second spring in a new climate zone. We moved from Southern California to the Midwest in April of 2017. I didn't experience any allergy symptoms whatsoever until this year.
Adult onset allergies are a real thing. It is not uncommon for a person to suddenly develop allergies to different foods etc. My mother, for instance, developed a deadly shellfish allergy about 10 years ago. She had always loved shrimp and other shellfish and then one day BAM she had a massive allergic reaction to it. While my allergies are nowhere that severe, they can come on at any age.
It is most common for allergies to either begin at one of two “peak” time periods: either during the preschool to early elementary years or early adulthood (to around the mid-20s). However, a person can develop new allergies at any point within their lifetime.
Allergies can and oftentimes also become worse over time. Mild allergies earlier in life can develop into more serious ones later on, even decades later. Allergies occur as a result of an immune response to a substance in the body, whether it is pollen, a certain food, animal fur/dander, dust or medication. A person becomes hypersensitive to it and the body springs the immune system into action and the immune system cells release histamine which leads to allergy symptoms.
Severe reactions can lead to anaphylaxis, which if not treated immediately can be fatal. An anaphylactic reaction oftentimes occurs almost immediately (within 5-30 minutes typically) and emergency medical treatment is required.
Typical allergy symptoms
- Itchy nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Stomach cramping
Symptoms of anaphylaxis
- Difficulty breathing
- Swollen throat/trouble swallowing
- Red rash that often times appears as welts/hives
- Paleness or red color throughout the body
- Chest tightness
- Loss of consciousness
Exposure to allergens
There are many ways that a person can be exposed to allergens. Inhaling them is the most common. Pollen, mold spores, dust, etc. float through the air and aren't always seen by the naked eye as you are inhaling them. The skin can absorb allergens, such as household products like cleaners, latex, poison ivy/oak to name a few. Allergens can also be injected, like bee stings and other insects that sting. Also, medications that are injected or ingested can cause an allergic reaction.
If you have a severe allergy, your doctor will almost often prescribe an EpiPen to have with you at all times. If you come into contact with an allergen that you know you have an anaphylactic reaction to, using the EpiPen auto-injector can save your life and buy you some time until you are able to receive emergency medical treatment.
Talk to your doctor about new symptoms
If you are experiencing allergy symptoms for the first time definitely give your doctor a call and make an appointment to talk about it and come up with a plan for treatment. Your allergies might only need an over the counter treatment here and there if they are seasonal or you might need something prescription strength to manage the symptoms. If your allergies are affecting your asthma, tell your doctor as well and be sure he/she updates you asthma action plan.
Pay attention to the air quality reports when the pollen counts etc are high and take any precautions necessary to help protect yourself. I have a fabric mask with a filter that I keep in my purse at all times that I can wear when needed. I never had to pay attention to pollen counts before but now I read them every day!
How does your asthma change with the seasons?