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Can You Develop Allergies Later in Life?

Most people get allergies for the first time as a kid. However, they’re not just a childhood problem. If you’re an adult, your sniffling, sneezing and coughing could be from allergies — even if you’ve never had them before.


Why Do I Have Allergies Now?

The sudden onset of allergies is frustrating, but common. It’s not always clear why some people develop sudden allergies later in life. Genetics may play a role, as might changes in adult immune systems. Adult-onset allergies occur most often for people in their 20s and 30s, though it’s possible to develop allergies at any age.

Moving to a new area is one common cause experts agree on. When you move to a new part of the country that has a different mix of grass, trees or weeds you’ve never been exposed to, there’s a chance you could develop sudden allergies to the new plants.

How Common Are Adult Allergies?

Allergies are the sixth-leading cause of chronic illness in the United States. Doctors don’t know exactly how many adults are diagnosed with allergies for the first time each year. But nasal allergies affect more Americans every year, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Allergies are caused when your immune system overreacts to an allergen. Your body releases histamine as it thinks the allergen might be harmful, and it does so in order to help 'fight' the allergen, causing respiratory symptoms, red and watery eyes, and more. Nearly 20 million adults in the United States have allergic rhinitis, which is commonly known as hay fever.

Nobody Knows Why Adult Allergies Occur

Although it’s not clear why allergies suddenly turn on, it’s important to learn how to manage your new allergy symptoms. The rules are the same for adults as they are for kids:

Icon of a flower releasing pollen.

Avoid the allergens whenever you can.

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Consider allergy shots (immunotherapy).

Adult Allergies and What You Need to Know

When an onset of allergy symptoms hit, testing from your primary care doctor or allergist can help narrow down the cause. Knowing what you’re allergic to can go a long way toward helping you find relief.

Learn more about allergy tests and what to expect during your doctor visit.

Once you know your allergic triggers, your doctor can help you decide on a treatment plan. A wide variety of effective treatment is available for seasonal allergies.

Effective treatments for adult allergies, including certain antihistamines, nasal corticosteroid sprays, saline sprays and washes, are available without a prescription. Claritin® is an effective, non-drowsy allergy medication that provides 24-hour relief of symptoms triggered by over 200 indoor and outdoor allergens from pollen, animals, mold and dust*. Claritin® provides relief for symptoms such as of runny, itchy nose, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes and itchy throat. Other oral medications and some nasal corticosteroids may require a prescription from your doctor.

*Claritin® is an antihistamine, so it hinders the cascade triggered by allergens.