Can allergies go away on their own?

You can become allergic at any age, but you can also manage to treat the symptoms.

Can allergies go away on their own?
Can allergies go away on their own?

Sneezing, runny nose, reddened eyes, itching… If for the first time in your life, you have spent the spring blowing your nose, to repeat that you are not sad and to have a series of negative Covid-19 tests, there is a very good chance that you will now be part of the team of allergic. Because yes, there is no age limit to join this not very popular club.

Indeed, contrary to what we sometimes believe, it is entirely possible to see the manifestation of symptoms respiratory allergies, but also food allergies, late in life.

Understanding the mechanisms of allergy

“We must fight against this preconceived idea that allergies, which correspond to an inappropriate and exaggerated reaction of the body towards substances present in the environment, only begin in childhood, explains the Dre Catherine Quéquet, allergist and author of New Allergies – How to Recognize Them? How to fight them? (editions du Rocher). You can become respiratory or food allergic in adulthood, around 40 years old and even around 60 or 70 years old, since allergies in old age are now an additional concern.

To understand it, we need to explain a little about the allergic mechanisms. THE allergies respiratory – caused by pollen, mites, mold or animals – and a large part of food allergies – for example to egg, fish, peanut or wheat – are dependent on IgE antibodies. These are produced hereditarily by so-called “atopic” people, after contact with environmental proteins which do not trigger any reaction in non-allergic people.

“For all these allergies dependent on specific IgE, there is always a prior period of sensitization, during which the person produces IgE antibodies specific to the food or respiratory allergen without experiencing symptoms, exposes the Dre Catherine Quéquet. This period of sensitization can last several months, even several years, and it is through contact with the allergen that the allergy can be triggered with the appearance of clinical symptoms. So, we can have the impression that it appears overnight, even though there has been a period of awareness for several years.”

It should be noted that certain factors can worsen allergic symptoms. This is particularly the case of the air pollution indoor or outdoor, humidity, climate change for respiratory allergies, taking certain medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatories or beta-blockers, or even alcohol.

Allergic once, allergic (almost) always

Once the allergy is there, it is very rare for it to go away on its own. Alone certain food allergies present in children, like those with milk and egg, tend to dissipate with age. For others, you should not expect a healing miraculous without any intervention (we’re getting there).

“If you become, for example, allergic to birch or dust mites at the age of 30 and you do nothing, the allergy will remain”, warns the Dr Sébastien Lefèvre, head of the allergology department at CHR Metz-Thionville and president of National Professional Allergology Council (CNPA). The specialist points out, however, that there may be fluctuations in the intensity of the symptoms depending in particular on the weather situation, indoor ventilation, humidity, etc.

So, if you experience allergy symptoms, a consultation is necessary to determine precisely the cause of your ailments –for example, to clarify whether your chronic rhinitis is caused by mold, mites or even by your cat. “When a respiratory allergy is suspected, it sometimes takes several years for the person to really realize it., explains the Dre Catherine Quéquet. It is often the repetition of symptoms over the course of life that will lead him to consult.”

Avoidance, treatment of symptoms, and immunotherapy

After an initial assessment, the doctor will refer you to an allergist to skin prick tests and a blood test measuring specific IgE directed against this or that allergen. “This is an opportunity to differentiate between the awareness stage and the allergy stage”, notes the specialist. So, the treatment will be based on several axes: avoidance (at least as much as possible, because it is not always easy to make a respiratory allergen disappear), symptomatic treatment with antihistamines, corticosteroids in nasal spray, and sometimes eye drops.

“In the event of associated asthma, respiratory function tests are carried out in order to assess the need for basic treatment and the prescription of treatment in the event of an attack”, specifies the Dre Quequet. It may then be decided to implement allergen immunotherapy – what was previously called “desensitization”. This treatment lasts between three and five years and is done sublingually, by drops or tablets. “It is a treatment that works well, particularly if it is started early”, comments the Dr Lefèvre. The fact remains that it is not always sustainable and that it will probably be necessary to start again around ten to fifteen years later.

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