Dr. Vivian Aranez
Vivian Aranez, M.D.
Pediatric and Adult Allergist/Immunologist,
MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center and
Miller Children's & Women's Hospital Long Beach

It’s that time of the year again, when the season changes and pollen count is high. Pollen is one of the most common triggers of seasonal allergies. Although allergies are annoying, they’re just your body’s way of trying to protect you from your environment. But, have you ever noticed that your allergies sometimes change as you get older?

It has been recognized that children and adults suffer allergy diseases, however, there are distinctions between manifestation in the two groups. For instance, how is it that when you’re a kid and eating an ice cream cone, you rarely have any stomach issues. But, by the time you’re an adult, and you eat an ice cream cone, it may not sit as well with you as it did all those years ago. It could be that you’ve built an intolerance to dairy.

As adults, our diet is different compared to when we were kids.  When we’re kids, we drink milk, eat grilled cheese sandwiches, and other dairy products. But when we’re adults, we start eating less of those items. We add oat milk to our coffees instead of regular milk, and eat vegan-friendly food options, either to fit our new dietary restrictions or because it’s the latest fad diet. Whatever the reason is for the change in our dairy consumption, we’ve unknowingly built an intolerance to dairy by our lack of exposure to it as well as genetic factors likely playing a role for some individuals.

Have you noticed more allergy symptoms with seasonal change and how can you tell if you’ve developed an allergic reaction to foods vs. developing intolerance symptoms?

For adults, environmental allergies are more bothersome compared to kids as this can impact one’s quality of life.  Food intolerance in adults is more common. A new onset of tree nuts and shellfish food allergy can occur in adulthood despite having this food while you were younger.

Allergic conditions are one of the most common chronic disorders worldwide. Yet, how a person can develop allergies is not completely understood and something that researchers are still looking into. A few reasons for what might lead a person to become susceptible to allergies are:

  • Family history: If there is history of atopic diseases (eczema, asthma, food allergy
    and allergic rhinitis), there is an increased chance of you developing allergy symptoms over time.
  • Exposures: Some people may not have been exposed to pets in or around the house while growing up. Because of this limited exposure as a child, by the time you’re an adult you might have become allergic to pet dander.
  • Environmental changes: When you move into a new place, you are potentially exposing yourself to new allergens that you’ve never been exposed to or had very little contact with. Much like having “little exposure while growing up,” your body might not be used to the allergens in your new environment.

Allergies are reactions, or a hypersensitivity, of the immune system to “allergens”, which are usually harmless foreign substances. Some of the substances that have been known to cause allergies are:

  • Pollen
  • Dust
  • Certain foods, such as dairy
  • Metals, such as nickel
  • Insect stings
  • Pet dander, and more

If you happen to experience allergies symptoms like a runny nose, itchy/watery eyes, itchy ears –to name a few– take an antihistamine, like Benadryl or Zyrtec. If that doesn’t help, and your allergies start to interfere with your day-to-day activities and worsen, then it might be time for you to meet with an allergist.

At MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center, we can help connect you with an allergist/immunologist to help you determine what is causing you severe allergic reactions and create a treatment plan.