Can You Outgrow Severe Allergies?
In severe cases, allergies can cause serious reactions, such as seizures, shock and even death. So wouldn't it be great if you or your child could simply outgrow a serious allergy? In some cases, it's possible. Learn which allergies you can outgrow—and how you can tell if you're in the clear.
An estimated 4 to 6% of American children have food allergies. So it's good news that many children naturally outgrow these conditions.
The likelihood that a child will outgrow a food allergy partly depends on the food. Some allergies tend to last for life; others are more likely to go away with time. Children can outgrow food allergies even if they have had severe reactions in the past.
Work with your child's allergist to keep tabs on his or her food allergy. Repeated tests over time can tell you if your child's allergies are improving.
About 85% of children naturally outgrow their allergies to milk, egg, wheat and soy; 15% will outgrow their shellfish, peanut, and tree nut allergies. But some research suggests that people may be able to take steps to overcome food allergies more quickly. For example, one study found that about 70% of children and young adults with egg allergies could tolerate baked eggs. So the researchers asked these subjects to eat baked eggs every day. After about three and a half years, 64% of the subjects could eat regular eggs. Researchers say this is because the kids' immune systems gradually adapted to the eggs.
Another study found similar results among children with milk allergies. When milk-allergic children ate baked milk products daily, most subjects were able to drink regular milk after three years.
Don't try these methods on your own, though. Doctors should supervise anyone with a food allergy who is testing his or her reaction to that food.
Allergic reactions to stinging insect venom can be serious. Bees, wasps and ants can all cause allergic reactions.
About 1% of children are severely allergic to insect stings. Fortunately, studies show that most children who have serious allergic reactions to insect stings outgrow their allergies.
The opposite is also true: People can develop insect allergies in adulthood that they didn't have before. You can have a severe reaction even if you've been stung many times before without a problem.
How do you know if you're no longer allergic to insect stings? See an allergist. He or she will ask you about how you responded to insect stings in the past. You may also need a skin test or blood test. Your doctor may also want to see how you respond to a sting. This test, called a "sting challenge," is done in the doctor's office to ensure your safety.
Don't assume an allergy has gone away on its own. If you think you or your child may have outgrown an allergy, talk with your doctor or allergist.
In some cases, children outgrow serious allergies that they experience in childhood.
It is possible to outgrow both food allergies and stinging insect allergies, but it doesn't happen for everyone.
Talk with your doctor or allergist about ways to test whether you or your children have outgrown an allergy.