Allergy, Who is at risk and why?

Allergies can develop at any age, perhaps even in the womb. They usually occur in children, but can give rise to symptoms in adulthood. Asthma may persist in adults, while nasal allergies trend downward in old age.

Why certain people are allergic

Some people are “sensitive” to certain allergens, while most are not? Why do allergy sufferers produce more IgE than those who are non-allergic? The important distinguishing factor appears to be heredity. For some time, it has been known that allergic conditions generally cluster in families. Your own risk of developing allergies is related to your parents’ allergy history. If neither parent is allergic, the chance that you will have allergies is about 15%. If one parent is allergic, the risk increases to 30% and if both parents are allergic, your risk may be more than 60%.

Although you inherit a tendency to develop allergies, you may never have any symptoms. You also may not necessarily inherit the same allergies or diseases as your parents. It is unclear what determines which substances will trigger an allergic reaction in a person. Furthermore, it is unknown which diseases might develop and how the severity of symptoms might increase.

Another important piece of the puzzle is environmental allergy. Obviously, you must have a genetic tendency and be exposed to an allergen to develop an allergy. Furthermore, the more intense and repetitive the exposure to an allergen, the earlier it occurs in life, the more likely an allergy will develop.

There are other important influences that can conspire to allergic conditions. Some of these are smoking, pollution, infections and hormones. Smoking is one of the few influences that people can control to prevent allergies.

What are common allergic conditions and their symptoms?

The parts of the body that are prone to reacting to allergies are the eyes, nose, lungs, skin and stomach. Although the various allergic conditions may present differently, they all result from an exaggerated immune response to foreign substances in sensitive people.

Personal history of allergy

I remember when I was about 18 years old, during my first job, I had skin allergies when I started working on a Xerox machine. From then on, whenever I ate some seafood, I started having allergy attacks. At one point my fingers on my right hand started itching like crazy. I loved scratching until I realized it was starting to swell. I went to a dermatologist who told me I had a yeast infection due to detergents and soaps I had used while washing dishes.

I have always loved eating nuts (walnuts, peanuts, etc.) About 9 years ago I had some cashews that caused a gallbladder attack. Once I experienced that, I avoided cashews. Recently, while I was at a friend’s house, she offered me a sweet from her home in India. I asked what they were made of. They were very aromatic. She didn’t know what they were made of, but I ate one anyway. My ears started to itch and burn. That was quickly followed by an itchy and burning sensation on the back of my tongue. The whole event lasted about 10 minutes.

I have an allergy to alcohol. I find it very confusing and frustrating when I heard the answer to the question if I can’t continue drinking if it is just a glass or two every now and then. My doctor advised that if I continued to drink alcohol someday the symptoms could worsen and lead to anaphylaxis. Right now I’m getting shortness of breath and hives after drinking.