BANGOR – It’s that time of year. Sneezing, itchy watery eyes and coughing. Allergy season will soon be upon us.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year.
“Your immune system is trying to protect you from cancer, colds and infections and being sick … If it overdoes it, then you develop allergy symptoms,” said Dr. Paul Shapero, an allergist in Bangor.
“In adults, we usually don’t develop these allergies at a later age. So if somebody is in their 40s or 50s usually they don’t tend to develop allergies out of nowhere or new allergies environmentally at least,” said Dr. Elias Akl, Allergy and Immunology physician with Northern Light Easter Maine Medical Center.
Doctor Akl said it’s more common to develop a food allergy as you age. He said sometimes adults can confuse an airborne irritant as a seasonal allergic reaction.
“With allergens, you have inflammation in your nostrils and airways and can lead to asthma and all that stuff, but with cigarette smoke and heavy odors and perfume … those are not inflammatory but irrational,” said Dr. Akl.
According to both physicians, allergies can change over time.
“You can grow out of allergies. We don’t know why but we just lose sensitivities,” Dr. Akl said.
Dr. Shapero believes in order to prevent allergies from getting worse or developing, the immune system needs to be balanced.
But when it comes to preventing an allergy altogether, Dr Akl disagrees.
“Obviously, leading a healthy life is very important. Try to exercise and eating healthy is important and all of that is very helpful, however, if your body decides it’s going to develop a shrimp allergy there’s not much we can really do about that, unfortunately,” said Dr. Akl.