New Sniffles and Sneezes? How Adulthood Can Change Your Allergy Tolerance

Were you an allergy-free kid only to experience sniffles, sneezes and a runny nose now as an adult?

“Some patients think they have a simple cold and are surprised to learn they have late-onset allergies,” said Dhuha Raab , DO, a family medicine physician with Memorial Physician Services—Koke Mill. “You can develop an allergy, even to food, in adulthood.”

More than 50 million Americans have allergies. The most common type of allergy is seasonal hay fever caused by pollen, weeds, grasses and molds. Other environmental allergies may include dust mites and pet dander; medicines like penicillin; or foods including shellfish, eggs and nuts.

An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system overreacts to an allergen, which causes you to itch, swell, sneeze or cough. Reactions can be inconsistent in some people, however, and may not appear until adulthood.

“Reactions may not always be the same, and will not necessarily worsen over time,” Raab said. “It is important to speak with your doctor if you are concerned that you’ve developed an allergy.”

An over-the-counter antihistamine may provide temporary relief, but if someone is wheezing or having difficulty breathing, they should seek emergency care immediately.

Need to see a doctor about an allergy?

Find a doctor to discuss seasonal, food, medicine or environmental allergies.

Dhuha Raab, DO, earned a bachelor of science degree in molecular and cellular biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from the Chicago Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine in Downers Grove.

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