How to Diagnose Adult Onset Allergies

Three Methods:Recognizing Allergy SymptomsDiagnosing Allergies When an AdultTreating the Allergies

Allergies are an over-response by the immune system to a substance where the body develops a sensitivity to that substance. True allergies involve a specific type of antibody and types of cells that release chemicals such as histamine and other cytokines. There are many different substances a person can be allergic to, such as dust, pollen, plants, pet dander, insect bites and stings, foods, drugs, materials such as latex, molds, fungi, and even cockroaches.[1] Allergies can develop at any point. Many allergies develop during childhood, but adults can develop new allergies as well. Learn how to diagnose adult onset allergies so you can treat any problems. Allergies are common, and you can deal with them through lifestyle modifications, medical treatment, symptom management, and desensitization therapy (through a specially trained allergist). Typically, you should choose the least invasive way to treat your allergies.

Method 1
Recognizing Allergy Symptoms

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    Notice any respiratory problems. If you have developed adult onset allergies from an airborne allergen, you may notice symptoms related to the respiratory system. If the allergen is breathed in or is in the air, the symptoms can include sneezing or a runny nose.[2]
    • You may also experience eye problems, such as itchy or tearing eyes.
    • Your breathing may be affected. A cough is commonly a symptom of allergies that is overlooked. People may think they are getting a cold, but the cough is actually due to an allergy. You may end up wheezing or coughing, or have shortness of breath or a tightness in the chest.
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    Look for any digestive problems. Some allergies can be triggered by ingesting certain substances. If the allergen is ingested, then the symptoms affect your digestive system. These symptoms can include vomiting, nausea, stomach upset, and diarrhea.[3]
    • If the reaction to an ingested allergen is severe, you may break out in hives
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    Check for any skin exposure reactions. You may also develop allergies to skin irritants. Skin exposure to an allergen can result in skin rashes and hives. You may also experience unusual skin itching.[4]
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    Monitor for other symptoms. Other allergy symptoms may be missed because they are not commonly associated with allergies. One commonly missed symptom is fatigue. Fatigue may occur because allergy symptoms are keeping you awake or drains you so that you feel like you have no energy.[5]
    • Headaches from sinus pain may also be symptoms of adult onset allergies.

Method 2
Diagnosing Allergies When an Adult

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    Go see your physician. If you believe you have developed adult onset allergies, you should go see your physician. When you see your physician, they will take a medical history and family history. Allergies tend to be common in some families. You physician will also determine if you are allergic to anything already since those with existing allergies tend to develop even more allergies.[6]
    • The physician will also do a physical exam and ask questions about your symptoms.
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    Get skin tests. The physician may recommend allergy testing. One kind of allergy testing may be done via skin tests. These tests can be done through a tiny prick or cut on the skin or by a very small injection just below the skin surface.[7] A specialty physician called an allergist will most often conduct these tests for you.
    • Positive results are indicated by a wheal and flare reaction, which is a raised, red, itchy bump surrounded by a circular area of swelling and redness in the test area.
    • Most of the allergy tests are minimally painful, though the positive results will be itchy and swollen.
    • The risk of anaphylaxis, or a severe allergic reaction, is a risk during allergy testing. Your allergist or physician will be specially trained to manage this reaction, if it occurs.
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    Undergo blood tests. Another type of allergy test your doctor may suggest is a blood test. This type of test can be done to measure antibodies to allergens. Blood tests are sometimes ordered for a person who has a skin disorder that makes it difficult to skin test, for babies and very young children, or for people taking some types of medications if the doctor suspects that anaphylaxis may occur.[8]
    • With any allergy test, anaphylaxis is a possible risk and cannot be predicted with absolute certainty.
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    Keep an allergy diary. There are a vast number of possible allergens that can be causing your symptoms. You can help your physician determine what you are allergic to by keeping an allergy diary. Keep track of where you are, what you are doing, and what is in your immediate vicinity when you experience your symptoms.[9][10]
    • Keeping track of where, when, and how bad your symptoms are can help narrow down the possibilities. Since one of the main treatment approaches to allergies is to avoid the allergen, keeping an allergy diary can be an effective method of both diagnosis and prevention.
    • For example, if you enter someone’s home who has cats and dogs, and you start to sneeze, itch, cough, or get watery eyes, chances are that cats and dogs can be at least part of the problem.
    • Check the pollen counts in your area when you start to have symptoms. Pollen counts are divided into the different sorts or classes of pollens. That may give you a better idea which pollens you may be allergic to.
    • If you begin to experience symptoms when you or someone else is dusting or vacuuming, you may have a dust allergy.
    • If there are certain plants that make you itch, those are potential allergens.

Method 3
Treating the Allergies

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    Avoid the allergens. One of the best treatments for allergies is always prevention. If you can avoid the allergen source, then you can eliminate your allergies. This is very often easier said than done, but it is an important first step.[11]
    • For example, if you are allergic to shellfish or nuts, you should avoid eating these foods. If you are allergic to cats, you should refrain from getting cats as a pet or limit your exposure to cats.
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    Treat the allergies medically. Medical options for the treatment of allergies are medications, such as decongestants, antihistamines, and other medications that prevent the release of histamine and other substances involved in the allergic response.[12]
    • Immunotherapy can be useful in preventing allergies. These can take the form of allergy shots, which is part of a process known as desensitization. During this, you essentially train the immune system to tone down the allergic response. Depending on what you are allergic to, your physician may recommend another form of immunotherapy, such as tablets or drops that you put under your tongue.
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    Use natural allergy treatments. There are a few different ways you can treat your allergies naturally. You can try implementing dietary changes to increase the nutritional quality of your foods and emphasize nutrient rich foods. You should also avoid foods associated with increasing sensitivity to allergens, including alcohol, caffeine, dairy products, food colorings, red meat, sugar, and wheat products. There are also a number of natural treatments that you can try for your allergies. These natural approaches are dietary, herbal, homeopathic, and supplemental.[13]
    • Supplements can include the use of vitamins to boost and support your immune system. You can try supplements, such as quercetin and other bioflavonoids, that act as natural anti-histamines.
    • Herbs can be used to specifically to treat the symptoms. For example, dong guai is a natural anti-histamine. You can take homeopathic medications that depend on your specific symptoms.

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Categories: Allergies and Immunization