What’s the Connection Between Age and Allergies?

Most people pick up their allergies for the first time as a kid and tend to outgrow them in adulthood.1 But some adults keep their allergies, or may even develop new ones. Similar to young age allergy , symptoms1 like sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes and itchy skin rash can also take place in elderly, and is referred to as old age allergy.

Developing old age allergy

Most societies are now seeing a growing proportion of elderly persons in their populations. In industrialized countries, the subgroup of persons aged 65 and above is the most quickly growing segment of the population2. Among the health problems that an elderly person faces are having to manage allergies they have had from before, as well as the possibility of developing new ones3.

It is possible to develop new allergies later in life. With age, your immune system becomes weaker and your body's tolerance or intolerance to allergens changes over time. From these age-related changes to your body’s first line of defence, you may find yourself allergic to dust, pollen , or certain foods, even if you weren't before4.

If allergy symptoms are present in you or your elders, consult your healthcare provider immediately. Symptoms like sneezing and watery eyes that persist for more than a week or two can mean that you have allergies5.

In the case of severe allergies, you might go into anaphylactic shock5. As older adults have low immunity and endurance, this may become life-threatening. In such extreme situations, a monitored dosage of the epinephrine drug will need to be injected to prevent you from falling into cardiac arrest.

Avoiding the risk of old age allergy

The following are some of the measures you can put into place to avoid the risk of old age allergy :

Eat a healthy diet

A healthy and well-rounded diet can provide the body with sufficient nutrients to provide strength and shore up its immunity. You or a loved one can include into your diets foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, protein and carbohydrates. These include fish, fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds6.

Keep away from allergens

Just as the saying goes prevention is better than the cure, the best way to avoid allergic reactions is to keep away from allergens. For cases like dust allergies, this might be difficult with dust mites nearly everywhere. However, you can keep your house nice and tidy to avoid dust mites from multiplying.

Caring for a loved one with old age allergy

Because older adults may develop entirely new allergies, it is important to watch out for signs and symptoms of allergies in your parents, grandparents, and older friends. If an ageing loved one exhibits any of the symptoms listed above, it would be best to consult your healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment7.

However, here are basic tips that you can put into practice in caring for an elderly with allergies:

Clean and sanitise your home

While staying indoors may keep your senior away from potential outdoor allergens, there are also plenty of possible allergens indoors, like dust, or pet dander. Keeping your home clean and sanitised helps you minimise potential allergy triggers7. When you or your loved ones return home from outside, remove your shoes, wash hands thoroughly, and take a shower to remove allergen particles that may have stuck on to your clothes.

Use medication

Antihistamines are the first line of defence against allergies and second-generation antihistamine is preferred for the elderly. Second-generation antihistamines include loratadine, which is the active ingredient in Clarityne®. It does not impair cognitive performance, and has a high safety record, including for older patients8. Once a day dosage is more suitable for elderly in terms of convenience and treatment compliance9. It is used to relieve a variety of allergic reactions and symptoms such as itching, sneezing, and rashes. For nasal stuffiness or congestion, do consult your healthcare professional for decongestants such as Clarityn-D®*.

Elderly is advised against using first-generation antihistamines to reduce risk of fall and agitation. These first-generation antihistamines are sedating and have a higher risk of negative reactions in the elderly, including anxiety, arrhythmia, and urinary problems7.

Try drug-free solutions

Seniors may also use natural solutions such as nasal hygiene sprays such as ClariCare® to help rinse out their nasal passages. This helps to minimize allergy symptoms like stuffy nose and sneezing while keeping the nose hydrated. When outside, minimize exposure to outdoor allergens by wearing sunglasses or other eyewear to prevent allergens from getting near the eyes.

Staying healthy and living your best is important at any age. When it comes to coping with changes that accompany growing old, it is essential to take proper precautions and care for healthy aging. Manage allergies for you or your loved ones and live life to the fullest.

*Read the patient information leaflet before use. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare professional.


  1. Allergies and Aging, Aging Care Accessed 17th September 2021
  2. Allergy and Aging: An Old/New Emerging Health Issue. Accessed 17th September 2021
  3. Allergy and ageing: An emerging health issue. Accessed 17th September 2021
  4. Can Allergies Go Away or Develop as You Age?. Accessed 22nd December 2021
  5. Anaphylaxis, MayoClinic. Accessed 17th September 2021
  6. What to Eat to Boost Your Immune System. Accessed 22nd December 2021
  7. Pharmacological Management of Allergic Rhinitis in the Elderly, Accessed 22nd December 2021
  8. Safety of second generation antihistamines, Accessed 22nd December 2021
  9. Using Patient Profiles To Guide The Choice Of Antihistamines In The Primary Care Setting In Malaysia: Expert Consensus And Recommendations.Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management. 2019;15:1267. Baharudin A, Latiff AH, Woo K, et al.