This year, I learned that my two young cousins have some exceptionally difficult food allergies. My 3 year old cousin is allergic to all dairy products. These products include: milk, cheese, yogurt, butter, and even most processed dairy foods. He will vomit if ingested, and break out into horrible hives if he even comes into contact with these products. My other cousin has a severe reaction from gluten due to Celiac Disease. This made me wonder; will there ever be a chance that they can grow out of these life changing allergies?
What are allergies and how are they tested?
Allergies are everywhere, and vary from foods all the way to environmental and medication, and are commonly developed at infancy and childhood. One may have an allergic reaction from ingestion, touch, and inhalation. According to Healthline, allergies are defined as a reaction from the body’s immune system when a foreign substance is detected. But the catch is, most of these are overreactions are from something harmless, such as cat dander or shellfish. Once your body detects these “invaders”, it sends out molecules called immunoglobulin E antibodies, thus causing your body to have a reaction. Allergies can be immensely unpredictable. Exposure to the allergen for the first time may cause a mild reaction, but the second exposure may unfortunately send you to the hospital. Reactions may also vary from hives all the way to unconsciousness and death. That is why it is a good idea to be tested early on for possible allergens. One may be tested through skin tests, challenge tests, and blood tests. To do a skin test, the doctor or nurse puts a small amount of the allergen directly onto the patient’s skin and waits to see a potential reaction. This is commonly applied by a prick. Challenge testing, used for potential food allergies, removes the suspected food from the patient’s diet. A few weeks later, the patient will eat that food again and watch for a reaction. Lastly, the blood test is used in place of the skin test. These tests simply search for antibodies against the suspected allergen in your body.
The simple answer to the question of “can you outgrow allergies?” is Yes. Growing accustomed to the allergen is one of the most theorized ideas. Sometimes people just get lucky and do not see a reaction anymore. If you aren’t one of these lucky individuals, and want to possibly lessen your reaction, you can promote your tolerance by exposure. Research has shown that immunotherapy may be one of the best ways to calm down the reaction to foods such as peanuts. Although this is not “outgrowing” the allergen, it has been shown as highly effective for food allergies. According to CNN, a group at Cambridge University Hospitals did an experimental study to see if immunotherapy was actually successful. 23 who were allergic to peanuts were put into a group. Each day, the children ate small amounts, starting with 1 mg. The researchers progressively increased peanut quantity every two weeks. By the end of the trial, the children ate upto 5 peanuts with very mild reactions, such as abdominal pain. This dose of 5 peanuts was then given for six weeks.
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In the end of the trial, amazingly, 91% of the children slowly exposed to peanut consumption can ingest 5 peanuts safely with no reaction. It gets even better. 19 of the children after six months could handle 12 peanuts, and after one year, the study showed that 15 of the children can handle 32 peanuts and have said to feel a lot safer when ingesting potential products with peanuts in them.
If you do not want to wait to see if your body naturally gets rid of your allergy, you may want to try immunotherapy. (With talking to your doctor first!) Although it is one study, it is clear that with the case of a peanut allergy that it is possible to build up your body’s tolerance to the allergen.
Dhar, Michael. “Can You Outgrow Your Allergies?” LiveScience. N.p., n.d. Web.http://www.livescience.com/39257-outgrow-allergies-go-away.html
@healthline. “Allergic Reaction.” Healthline. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.http://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/allergic-reaction#ReadThisNext8
Landau, Elizabeth. CNN. Cable News Network, 19 Feb. 2010. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/02/19/aaas.food.allergies/