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Midlife Allergies

Dear Dr. Kagen,

I am a 45 year old female. In the last two years I have developed allergies. They are quite severe in June-July. Last year I was tested and found to be allergic to most all grasses, a few trees, a few molds and dogs, cats and dust mites. From watching the pollen counts, I think that grasses give me the most trouble.

Can you give me any understanding why I would come up with allergies out of the blue??? Could they be related to changing hormone levels as I approach Menopause? I have "Pre menopausal Symptoms" at this point. Any hope they will go away, as quickly as they showed up?

Thanks for your time.

Carol H.

Dear Carol,

Thanks for asking about the unexpected onset of grass allergy symptoms in "mid-life".

No one knows exactly why patients begin to have allergy immune reactions at any time in their lives, let alone in their mid-forties. The human immune system is complex. Researchers are beginning to piece together the unknowns. At this moment there is no satisfactory explanation available to you as to why your allergies began now and not ten or twenty years ago.

Why questions are difficult to answer.

What we do know is that allergy can begin at any time in life. Allergy is due to too much production of the antibody called IgE. [See "All About Allergy" section of] The allergy antibodies which are causing you to release too much histamine into your system are directed in part towards grass allergens.

It is important for you to understand that grass like allergens may also be found in specific foods you may be eating such as tomato, potato, onions, oats, wheat, celery, carrots and other grass-like food sources.

Changing hormone levels do play a role in how you feel, but may not have anything to due with how your immune system behaves. Allergy is not due to menopause.

I would encourage you to contact an Allergy Specialist in your area so that you may receive personal responses to you very important and difficult questions about allergy.

I hope this info helps you.

Good luck.

Steve Kagen, M.D.