Adult allergies: why do they happen?

adult allergies

Adult allergies: why do they happen?

If you suddenly find yourself with a blocked nose after a walk in the park, or your stomach turns after eating cake, there might be a reason why. Adult allergies can occur, and they aren’t uncommon.

The UK has some of the highest rates of allergic conditions with over 20% of the population suffering from at least one allergic disorder. But how do you know you have an allergy? What separates them from intolerances, and why do they randomly occur during adulthood?

What is an allergy?

An allergy is a reaction the body has to usually harmless substances such as dust or food. The immune system believes these allergens to be a threat and releases chemicals such as histamine in response. Common symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes, breathing difficulties, abdominal pain, and hives. In severe cases, allergies can have life or death consequences, with some triggers causing individuals to have an anaphylactic shock.

In the 20 years to 2012, there was a 615% increase in the rate of hospital admissions for anaphylaxis in the UK.

What is an intolerance?

Intolerance is a sensitivity to specific ingredients. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, and nausea. They affect the digestive system, whereas allergies affect the immune system. Intolerances aren’t life-threatening; however, some symptoms are more harmless than others such as bloating. Severe reactions include diarrhoea, rashes, or reflux.


The main difference between allergies and intolerances is that allergies can be a reaction to everything from food to pollen. Counter to that, intolerance is a discomfort to only food.

  • Allergies can be life-threatening.
  • Allergy symptoms happen almost immediately after consuming triggering ingredients.
  • Individuals who suffer from an intolerance can eat triggering foods in small quantities.

Triggering ingredients often include gluten, dairy, and fructose.

Why do adult allergies develop?

It’s not uncommon for allergies to manifest during adulthood. Although there’s no definitive answer as to what’s behind a late onset of allergies, there are a few theories as to where they come from.


If you suddenly start sneezing when you’re around allergens such as pet hair or pollen, it can be caused by a lack of exposure. If you’ve lived your life in a city with minimal plant life for example, suddenly being in a pollen-filled environment may trigger hay fever.

In some cases, you may have always had an allergy present. But it may have been so minor that you didn’t even notice as it caused minimal discomfort. It’s possible that the allergy increased during adulthood.

Another reason may be that little exposure to bacteria and dirt may increase vulnerability to allergies as the body suppresses the natural development of the immune system. So when our immune system does come into contact with unclean environments, the body overreacts.


There are several ways to manage allergies including:

  • Avoiding triggering environments, ingredients, and other allergens.
  • Taking an antihistamine and using nasal sprays.
  • Regularly cleaning your home.

If you are experiencing symptoms of an allergy or intolerance, it’s best to find out the cause as soon as possible to reduce discomfort.

If you think you might be suffering from allergies but have never had them diagnosed, why not order one of our home testing kits today. Find out once and for all what’s causing you to sneeze and cough. Request an allergy test with us today or visit our website.

Copyright 2020. All Rights Reserved