Who Develops Allergies?
The tendency to develop allergies is determined by genetic and environmental factors. Certain set of genes code for a predisposition to react adversely to otherwise innocuous substances. This inherited susceptibility is called atopy.
Theoretically any individual at any age can develop allergies. However, it is commonly observed to ‘run’ in certain families more often than in others, due to genetic endowment. If one’s parents or siblings have allergies, he or she is more likely to develop allergic manifestations than someone who does not have a family history of allergies. In fact, if one parent has allergies, there is a 30-50% chance that each one of their children will develop allergies during their lifetime. Likewise, if both parents have allergies, there is a 50-70% chance that each one of their children will develop allergies at some point in their lives.
There are three types of allergic disorders that are genetically linked. They are eczema (i.e., atopic dermatitis), asthma, and environmental (i.e., allergic rhinitis, hay fever)/food allergies. If an individual is diagnosed with one type of allergy, the chances of his or her development of other types of allergies is higher than someone who does not have any allergies.
In an individual who is genetically predisposed, the amount and frequency of exposure usually determines the severity of symptoms. Certain occupations increase the likelihood of exposure to allergens and the development of allergic manifestations. For example, patients with conditions requiring repeated surgical procedures and health care workers are likely to develop allergy to latex. Workers in cosmetic industry and chemical industries are more likely to develop contact skin allergies. Food handlers and laboratory workers handling animals for research are also more likely to develop respiratory and dermatological manifestations.
It is interesting to note that both the incidence and prevalence of allergies in the U.S. have increased, especially over the last 10-15 years. It is not known exactly why this is occurring, however, there are a few theories on this phenomenon. Regardless on why there are more allergies to both environmental allergens as well as food allergens, it is important to note that the board certified allergists of Black & Kletz Allergy have more than 50 years of experience in the diagnosis and management of all types of allergies, asthma, sinus disorders, eosinophilic maladies, and immunological conditions. If you suffer or think you may have symptoms of any of these disorders, please call us today to schedule an appointment. Alternatively, you may click Request an Appointment and we will respond within 24 hours by the next business day regarding your inquiry. Our offices in Washington, DC, McLean, VA (Tysons Corner, VA), and Manassas, VA all have on-site parking and our Washington, DC and McLean, VA offices are Metro accessible. We are happy to serve you and provide state-of-the-art allergy and asthma management to you as we have been doing for over 50 years in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.