Where do adult allergies come from?

Adult allergies

Where do adult allergies come from?

Some people go through life without knowing the annoyance or danger of an allergy. But then, suddenly, they find themselves sneezing at flowers or feeling ill after a pizza. It turns out they’ve developed an allergy in their adult years. And it isn’t especially uncommon.

This might be all the more prevalent in the UK, where 20% of the population has at least one allergy. If this is a new sensation for you, how can you be sure it’s a new allergy? Or how do you know if it’s not an allergy but an intolerance? And why do they happen in the first place?


Put simply, an allergy is your body having a reaction to something that is usually harmless. Think pollen for hay fever or peanuts. Your immune system sees these as a threat to your body, releasing chemicals to try to fight it. It might lead to mild symptoms such as sneezing or itchy eyes. 

But it could also be fatal if it’s a severe allergy. You will have likely seen stories in the news about people dying from eating something as simple as popcorn. This is a result of an anaphylactic shock, something which has been increasing over the last few decades.


On the other hand, you have intolerances. You are more likely to experience stomach troubles, such as bloating and nausea. That’s because intolerances tend to affect the digestive system, while allergies affect your immune system.

They aren’t particularly life-threatening, but some of the symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable. In more severe cases, you can suffer from diarrhoea, rashes, or acid reflux.

So what’s the difference?

As we explained above, one is a digestive issue while the other is an immune issue. But one main difference is intolerances are only a reaction to food. Allergies can be a reaction to anything and everything.

On top of this, allergies can be life-threatening while intolerances usually aren’t. Allergic reactions tend to also happen almost instantly after coming into contact with an allergen (though not always). People with intolerances don’t have to stay away from allergens and can even eat triggering food in small doses.

So why do these appear in adulthood? The problem is, there is no definitive answer. There are a handful of theories, though.


One thought is a lack of exposure can cause an allergy. The idea is you aren’t building up an immunity by being exposed.

Another take on this theory is you always had the allergy but were never exposed to the trigger. You might see this in an animal allergy if you never had pets, for example.

There are always a lot of question marks when it comes to allergies. The important part is you speak to an expert about it. Ask your GP for advice or seek out an allergy specialist who can help discover and manage your allergies.

Our experts are always on hand to help you with your allergy queries. Don’t suffer with a new allergy – get in touch with us today on 02031 433 449.

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