If you had a childhood allergy that was incredibly debilitating that no longer affects you or if you have a child who suffers from allergies, you may be wondering if it’s possible to outgrow an allergic reaction certain substances. The answer is yes, depending on the nature of the allergy, whether or not it was an allergy or sensitivity and other key factors.
What Is An Allergy?
To understand how a person can outgrow an allergy, it’s important to understand why a person is allergic to something in the first place. In brief, an allergic reaction happens when your body’s immune system reacts to a benign foreign substance, such as plant pollen, peanut or pet dander, as if it is an invading virus. Allergic reactions can vary greatly in severity; someone with a pollen allergy might experience hay fever when coming in contact with ragweed whereas someone with a peanut allergy might go into anaphylactic shock if they eat a single peanut butter cookie. To gain a full understanding of your allergies and how to treat them, it’s recommended that you consult with a qualified medical professional.
Allergy versus Sensitivity
It’s also worth noting that there is a difference between allergy and sensitivity. Although the two terms are often used interchangeably, they refer to two different ailments. For example, a person who experiences stomach discomfort after eating a bowl of ice cream might have a hard time breaking down the sugar enzyme lactose. Comparatively, a person with a peanut allergy could die from consuming a bowl of peanut butter ice cream. In addition to the severity of reaction, allergies and sensitivities are different because allergies are a product of immune reaction whereas sensitivity is not. As such, it’s much more common for people to outgrow food sensitivity than food allergy.
What Kind of Allergies Can Be Outgrown?
While there have been recent advances in how allergies are treated, it is not currently understood why allergies fade over time. It’s estimated that 60 to 70 percent of children will experience and outgrow a sensitivity to milk or eggs by the age of 16, but only 20 percent of children who are allergic to peanut butter typically outgrow the allergy. Only 4 to 5 percent of children outgrow an allergy to shellfish. In many cases, the severity of a person’s allergy will correlate with their likelihood of outgrowing their condition. There have also been findings that indicate the earlier a child experiences a reaction, the greater the chance they will outgrow their allergy. The only way to safely determine whether or not a person has outgrown their reaction to a certain allergen is by having a qualified doctor perform a blood test.
If you have questions about your allergies, contact us today to set up an appointment. Dr. Shukla has the expertise and knowledge to determine if you have a sensitivity or allergy, whether or not you’ve outgrown that condition and what course of treatment would be appropriate if you have not.