Can you outgrow your allergies?

Grass allergies often grow worse with age, but shots have been proven to help.
By STEPHEN PRESCOTT AND ADAM COHEN Modified: April 28, 2014 at 3:21 pm •  Published: April 29, 2014
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Adam’s journal

As a kid, whenever spring rolled around, my eyes would turn cherry red and my nose would run like a spigot. My parents sent me to an allergist, who attributed my troubles to hay fever brought on by pollens.

In one of the many cruel ironies of childhood, I soon found myself facing a cure that, at least to my young eyes, seemed worse than the disease. Yes, I’m talking about allergy shots.

Following a decade of weekly injections, my allergies pretty much disappeared. But in recent years — and in recent weeks — I’ve noticed that spring once again comes with more than April showers. I’d figured either I’d outgrown my allergies, or that the shots had cured me. But, alas, they’re back. What gives?

Dr. Prescott prescribes

Allergies happen when your immune system confuses innocuous things like plant pollens or pet dander with true bad guys like viruses or bacteria. So, as the immunologists at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation can tell you in much greater detail, your body unleashes an attack against these allergens. This sets in motion a chain reaction that ultimately releases histamines, substances made by your own body that can cause inflammation in the nose and throat, watering eyes, and lots and lots of mucous.

A recent study found that 45 percent of Americans older than age 6 have allergies, with inhaled substances such as ragweed, dust mites and grass being the most common culprits. Unfortunately for you, research hasn’t shown much evidence that people outgrow allergies to inhaled substances (although children often lose their allergies to foods as they age). In fact, it’s been shown that people can actually develop new allergies as they age.

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