Wondering if you can outgrow your allergies? Learn more about how allergies work and if symptoms can go away or lessen over time.
Most people develop allergies in infancy or childhood. Allergy symptoms may vary from season to season. Or you may notice that your friend’s dog gives you a sneeze attack, while your own has never bothered you!
Allergic responses can change — for better or for worse. And while specialists don’t know exactly why, it’s possible for new allergies to emerge and old ones to disappear, even into adulthood.
How Allergies Work
An allergy is an abnormal reaction by your immune system to an ordinarily harmless substance (called an allergen). When an allergen enters the body of an allergic person, that person’s immune system views the allergen as an invader.
As a response to this invasion, your white blood cells produce Immunoglobulin E antibodies. These antibodies attach themselves to special cells called mast cells, causing a release of potent chemicals like histamine, which leads to allergy symptoms.
Some of the symptoms of an allergic reaction can include:
- Itchy eyes, throat, and nose
- Hives and rashes
- Respiratory problems
- Digestive issues
Can You Outgrow an Allergy?
The simple answer is yes — there is evidence that people can and do outgrow allergies, particularly specific food allergies. However, more commonly adults will develop a new allergy in response to increased exposure to different environmental allergens.
Some experts believe that as a person is exposed to an allergen over time, that person can grow accustomed to it, reducing the immune system’s sensitivity. This is similar to how vaccines help build immunity against a certain virus, or the way allergy immunotherapy (allergy shots and allergy drops) works to decrease a person’s allergic response to a specific allergen.
Consistent exposure to allergens could explain decreased or disappearing allergy symptoms, but there’s no way to know if symptoms will disappear and resurface without the help of an allergy specialist.
Outgrowing Food Allergies
Research shows that it’s very possible to outgrow food allergies, especially for young children. The most common food allergies include milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and wheat.
Data shows that between 60 and 80 percent of young children will outgrow a milk or egg allergy by age 16; 20 percent will outgrow a peanut allergy; but only 4 to 5 percent will outgrow a fish or shellfish allergy.
While children can often outgrow allergies, it’s also possible for adults to “grow into” an allergy later in life. If you have an allergic response to a food you weren’t previously allergic to, you should consult a doctor right away.
What You Can Do
If you think you’ve outgrown a food allergy, consider these steps:
- Consult with an allergist. Your doctor can help you test the food safely through an in-office food challenge.
- Keep diphenhydramine (Benadryl) on hand, in case of a reaction.
- Continue to monitor for allergic responses, and know what to do if one occurs.
Long-Term Allergy Relief with Allergy Drops
Sublingual immunotherapy, or allergy drops, can make your allergy symptoms disappear. By taking small doses of your allergen (a few drops under the tongue), your body gradually stops recognizing this allergen as a threat and you become more and more tolerant.
Over time, your symptoms will dissipate and eventually disappear. Most patients take allergy drops for three to five years, reporting that symptoms subside as soon as three months.
Allergy Drops with Advanced ENT & Allergy
Advanced ENT & Allergy Center was one of the first providers of sublingual immunotherapy in Colorado. Since 2004, we have treated thousands of patients with this easy, convenient therapy. Here’s how it works:
- Based on your specific allergies, determined through an allergy test, we customize your allergy drops. We can mix several antigens in one bottle of allergy drops and treat all of your allergies at the same time.
- You take your treatments at home — typically two doses in the morning and one dose at night. You’ll simply put the allergy drops under your tongue.
- When you run out, our office will send you the next bottle in your treatment program.
Over time, this gentle and gradual exposure to your allergens will help decrease symptoms.
Get Help with Allergies
Allergies can disrupt your life in many ways, and if you suspect you have allergies or have outgrown an allergy, it’s a good idea to speak with an allergy specialist. Our doctors are trained to help uncover the underlying causes of your symptoms in order to offer treatment options that will work for you.