It can be frustrating to find out that you are now allergic to something that you weren't allergic to just a few years ago. It's possible to go all your life without being allergic to dog and cat dander, mold or pollens, and develop one later in life. This is known as adult onset allergy, and it's more common than you may have guessed. Many allergies are known to affect the airways, and this can be dangerous for those with a chronic lung condition, such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or asthma.
What causes late onset allergies?
Experts have come up with several possible causes for why you would develop an allergies late in life, and it's not always easy to pin point why for each individual case. One reason is, you can actually overexpose yourself to a certain allergen, like animal dander if you've had pets for a long time. Or maybe you live in a house with a mold problem, and now you've started having reactions to it.
Another possible cause for late onset allergies is a complete opposite from the first – you weren't exposed enough to a certain allergen when you were younger. When we are kids, our immune systems are stronger, and this is when we are better equipped to build up an immunity to things that may become allergens later.
The most likely and the most simple reason is, your immune system is just weaker than it used to be. Allergies occur when your immune system detects a foreign particle of something in your body that it sees as dangerous, and it goes to work to get rid of it. Unfortunately, when your immune system can't rid itself of something properly, it goes into attack mode with an overproduction of histamines, mucous and white blood cells, and this is when a runny nose or wheezing occurs.
What should I do now that I'm allergic to something?
Don't worry, people who have had allergies all their lives are able to cope with them, and so can you. It's important for you to identify exactly what it is you are allergic to, so you can be properly treated. You don't want to let your allergies aggravate your lungs, since allergies like hay fever can lead to COPD exacerbations, or asthma attacks.
See your doctor and talk to him or her about how and when you started noticing your new symptoms. Her or she can prescribe you a good allergy medicine to take to prevent it from causing any flare ups, or you might be able to take a generic, over the counter allergy medicine if it effectively relieves your allergy symptoms.
If you can't avoid your allergens, as is the case with seasonal pollen allergies, you will need to take your allergy medicine each day before you start to experience symptoms. Many pollen allergies are worse in the early morning, so you should take your allergy medicine at night before you go to bed. Even if you are taking an allergy medicine, you should still do what you can to avoid the allergens. That means closing your windows in the spring or late summer when pollens are at their worst, or staying away from animals that you are allergic to.