The connection between allergies and genes
If a parent has an allergy, a child is though some allergies may have a family connection, it’s difficult for doctors to know exactly what percentage of allergies are solely genetic.
A person experiences an allergic reaction when the body’s immune system overreacts to an item or substance. The immune system then creates antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). The antibody transports to cells, which in turn release chemicals. Those chemicals cause an allergic reaction. The process is the same whether allergies have a genetic component or not.
What’s also similar is the fact that allergic reactions can change with age for better, or worse. They can worsen over time and improve over time.
Environmental allergies can also improve or get worse. Research shows that climate change can impact allergies, given that pollen season is starting earlier, lasting longer, and spreading more pollen.8
While a cure is not available, allergies can be treated and managed. Although immunotherapy to peanut can decrease the risk of an allergic reaction, there are current clinical trials investigating whether immunotherapy to foods other than peanut or certain medications can protect children from a food allergy reaction.
Allergy shots, antihistamines, and oral medication can also help suppress allergy symptoms and lessen severe reactions.
Other contributors to allergy development
Heredity is just one of many potential risk factors for developing allergies. gender, race, and age can also play a part in whether a person has an allergic reaction. Living in a heavily polluted area can be a component, as well as smoking, or consuming second-hand smoke. Diet, along with other lifestyle choices, can also play a part.
When looking at risks for developing allergies later in life, experts offer possible explanations.
Experts note that being armed with information regarding other family members who have allergies, being aware of when you experience allergic reactions, and talking with your healthcare provider about possible risk factors can help you determine the best course of treatment for allergies.
How Are Allergies Diagnosed?
A medical professional can help you determine if an allergy test is needed, along with the best one for your circumstances. There are multiple testing methods available. Skin tests consist of pricking the skin with specific substances and watching for a reaction. A doctor can also scrape the skin or apply the allergen externally.
A healthcare provider may also perform a blood test and send it off to a laboratory to see if antibodies for the allergen are in the blood. A provocation test means a doctor would apply the allergy substance to trigger a response, such as lining the mucous of the nose with types of pollen.
Some studies have looked at whether genetic testing can help predict food allergies. While there have been strides made in this area, experts note that more research is needed. Presently, there is not a definitive test that can determine if an allergy is hereditary.
How to make informed decisions about allergies
It can be hard to know how to manage your allergies when you aren’t sure what you are allergic to. The first step is to find out what substances or foods could present a problem for you. Once you are aware of allergies, allergy shots, nasal inhalants, and other medication can help manage the symptoms. In some instances, staying away from the allergen all together will help keep you healthy.
In the case of an emergency where you have been exposed to an allergen and is experiencing trouble breathing, swelling, abdominal pain, dizziness, or other concerning reactions, visit the hospital immediately.
Knowing your family’s history of allergies can be beneficial to you. While genetics is not the only factor in the development of allergies, understanding its impact is important. Talking with a healthcare provider and/or pursuing testing with an allergist can help you manage and successfully mitigate severe risk of allergies in you.