Many people live through childhood sleeping with their pet kitties on their pillows, rolling around on dust filled carpets, and collecting flowers and weeds to give to their moms. They do this without a sneeze or sniffle. Those same carefree kids grow up and when they hit their 20s, they suddenly develop allergies to all those things. What gives?
Allergies can develop at any age, and its prevalence in adults is rising. It's known as Adult-Onset Allergies and there are many theories as to why this happens. The most accepted reason is that nowadays babies' developing immune systems are not exposed to as many viruses, bacterium, and allergens as in the past due to wide use of antibiotics, vaccinations, cleaner food and water supply, better living conditions, and germ-a-phobe parents who don't let their kids roll around in dirt. When immune systems aren't faced with dust, pollen, and mold, they don't fully develop the ability to combat those allergens in the future. So in a way, being too careful and being protected against such allergens can actually cause children's immune systems to develop in an unbalanced way, which can make them hypersensitive to seemingly harmless substances in the future.
Allergies can also develop if you are exposed to allergens when your immune system is weakened. That's why pregnant women often develop allergies after they give birth.
Could your family history be to blame for allergies too? To find out
Genetics can definitely play a role in developing allergies as an adult as well. Allergies to specific allergens are not necessarily inherited, but the general tendency to develop allergies can be traced back to your family. If one of your parents has allergies, then you have a one in three chance of developing allergies too.
Your age also has something to do with developing allergies. Since repeated exposure to certain allergens can cause an allergic reaction, it makes sense to develop allergies when you're older, as you've had more time to be in contact with dust, dander, mold, and pollen.
I guess I should be grateful that I lived without allergies for most of my life, but I get the sniffles now when all the flowers start to bloom. What about you? Are you all of a sudden allergic to your pet or do you get a runny nose as soon as the pollen count climbs?