Allergies are complicated conditions influenced by many factors. Researchers have long wondered if allergies might be inherited and run in families. The question “Are allergies genetic?” seeks to understand if your DNA and genes play a role in whether you develop allergies. A related question is “Are allergies inherited?” – asking if they pass from parent to child. The answers seem to be both yes and no. Studies show that you do have a higher chance of having allergies if your parents have them. Your genes probably make you more prone to getting allergies. However, not everyone with allergy genes ends up with allergies. And even identical twins don’t always share the same allergies. While genetics plays a part, other environmental factors also influence why some family members experience allergies and others don’t. Stay tuned to learn more about this important topic!
Are Allergies Genetic?

Genetic Basis of Allergies

Research shows that allergies tend to run in families. There seems to be a genetic factor that predisposes some people to developing allergic conditions. This genetic tendency is known as “atopy.”

If you have an atopic family history, you are born with a higher risk of allergies. For example, studies show that a child has up to an 80% chance of developing hay fever if both parents have it too. There are several other family tendency examples like this across different allergic diseases:

  • Eczema
  • Asthma
  • Food allergies

All of these conditions show higher rates among children if their parents or siblings have them. It’s not just the same specific allergies that get passed down either. The overall atopic tendency gets inherited. So you may develop environmental allergies even if your parents have food allergies.

The immune system genes that make people prone to overreacting seem to be what runs in families. That’s why multiple different allergic conditions tend to affect some unlucky families! Of course, not everyone with a family history of allergies goes on to develop them. Genetics loads the gun, but other triggers like viruses, air pollution or even emotional stress may pull the trigger later in life.

Understanding this complicated interplay of genetic risks and lifestyle factors is key to managing and hopefully preventing allergies in the future.

Allergy Symptoms

Allergies can cause a wide spectrum of symptoms that vary from person to person. However, some of the most common complaints fall into categories based on the body system affected:

  • Respiratory: Runny nose, sneezing, wheezing and coughing often occur together, as allergens irritate nasal and lung airways.
  • Skin: Hives, rashes or flaring of eczema arise from inflammation in skin tissue.
  • Digestive: Food allergies provoke nausea, vomiting, cramping or diarrhoea.

In rare cases, a severe reaction called anaphylaxis causes whole-body hives, airway swelling, low blood pressure, and other dangerous effects.

Importantly, while many associate allergies mainly with sneezing and itchy eyes, allergy symptoms manifest differently depending on the individual. For example, some people may experience impaired concentration, headaches, or joint pain as part of their allergic response. Paying attention to personal symptoms and how they are triggered by allergens is key to effective treatment.

Understanding Common Allergens

When trying to manage allergies, it is essential to identify the substances triggering reactions. These allergy-causing agents are known as allergens. Learning to recognize the most prevalent allergens allows patients to utilize avoidance measures and control exposure.

Common Allergy Triggers

Airborne Allergens

  • Dust mites in bedding provoke allergic reactions.
  • Pollen grains released by trees, grasses, and weeds trigger hay fever symptoms in sensitized people.
  • Mould spores originating from damp areas like bathrooms and basements cause allergy flare-ups when inhaled.
  • Pet dander from cats, dogs, and small mammals floats in household air and causes symptoms in sensitive individuals.

Seasonal Differences

  • Tree pollen peaks in spring, grass pollen is highest in summer, and weed pollens escalate through late summer and fall.

Regional Variance

  • Ragweed pollen blankets Midwest states, while mould spores thrive in consistently damp climates.

Food Allergens

  • Eggs, cow’s milk, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, soy, and wheat are among the most common food allergy culprits.
  • Peanut allergies pose risks of life-threatening anaphylaxis, but allergies to cow’s milk, eggs, and wheat more commonly affect children.
  • Shellfish frequently provoke severe allergic reactions in older children, teens, and adults.
  • Unlike seasonal environmental allergens, food allergens persist year-round and require ongoing management.

Understanding these most common allergies can help individuals take proactive steps to minimize their exposure and manage their symptoms effectively.

Determine Allergy Duration

When allergies flare up, a reasonable question is “How long should allergies last?” The duration of discomfort can range widely. Some allergic responses resolve in minutes or hours after exposure ends, causing temporary sneezing or itchiness. Other allergies persist for months or years once triggered, leading to chronic issues like recurrent eczema flares or asthma complications.

What accounts for this variability in symptom duration? Key factors include:

Allergen type Seasonal pollen allergies follow predictable patterns, while year-round allergens like dust mites continually provoke symptoms in sensitive people.
Individual physiology The immune system determines if allergic reactions resolve quickly or turn into persistent inflammation.
Environmental control Ongoing exposure to allergens maintains symptoms. Strict allergen avoidance facilitates recovery.
Treatment approach Medications reduce symptoms but allergies usually return once treatment stops. Immunotherapy can induce long-term allergy remission.

Over time, some allergies like cow’s milk reactivity may fade in childhood. However, environmental and food allergies often worsen with age if not properly managed, detrimentally impacting sufferers’ quality of life. Working with allergists knowledgeable about the natural progression of different allergic diseases helps patients understand likely outcomes and make appropriate coping plans.

Allergy Medicine for Kids and Pregnant Women

When children experience allergies, concerned parents often wonder, “Which allergy medications are safe for kids?” It’s important to recognize that youngsters have unique needs, especially considering the phenomenon known as the “allergic march.” This progression sees early manifestations like food or skin allergies evolving into conditions such as asthma and hay fever as children age. Typically, this sequence begins before the age of 5, with indicators like eczema or food allergies signalling an immune system prone to allergies. By ages 5 to 7, allergic rhinitis commonly emerges, followed by the spread of inflammation into the lungs during grade school years, resulting in asthma symptoms like wheezing and coughing.

To interrupt this progression, it’s crucial to employ appropriate paediatric allergy medications:

  • Antihistamines: Non-drowsy variants provide relief without inducing sedation.
  • Nasal sprays: These help alleviate congestion and irritation.
  • Asthma inhalers: Essential for managing flare-ups and breathing difficulties.
  • Immunotherapy: A proactive approach to preventing long-term allergies.

What Allergy Medicine Is Safe During Pregnancy?

Expectant mothers often inquire about the safety of allergy medications during pregnancy. The suitability of options varies depending on the medication and the trimester:

Medication 1st Trimester Later Trimesters
Antihistamines Low risk Low risk
Nasal sprays Likely safe Safe
Oral decongestants Avoid Caution advised

Ultimately, physicians play a vital role in selecting the optimal allergy medications, taking into account factors such as age, medical history, symptoms, and individual preferences.

Investigate Allergy-Related Symptoms

Many people wonder, “Can allergies cause a cough?” Allergies frequently provoke respiratory issues but are not contagious illnesses themselves. When allergens like pollen, pets or mould trigger immune reactions, respiratory tissues become irritated, inflamed, and hypersensitive. This swelling narrows airways and stimulates cough reflexes, attempting to expel perceived threats. So chronic coughs, sore throats, and wheezing often stem from allergy problems rather than transmissible germs.

It is also a common misconception to ask “Are allergies contagious?” Allergies cannot spread between people through direct contact or airborne transmission. However, several family members may share genetic risks or environmental exposures provoking similar allergy issues.

Effectively managing allergy-related respiratory discomfort relies on:

  • Avoidance: Limiting exposures to environmental or food triggers as much as possible
  • Medications: Antihistamines, decongestants and asthma inhalers to control symptoms
  • Air Purification: High-efficiency particulate filters improve indoor air quality
  • Immunotherapy: Allergy shots train the immune system, preventing long-term sensitivity

Tracking when coughs and other symptoms occur in relation to specific exposures helps identify personal allergy triggers. Confirming your unique sensitivities allows tailored prevention to successfully minimize respiratory complaints through the seasons. Consulting allergists creates customized treatment plans.


What percentage of allergies are genetic?

Studies estimate that 45-60% of a person’s chances of developing allergies come from genetics or family history. But lifestyle and other factors make up the remaining percentage. Even identical twins only share allergies around 65% of the time.

Can genetic testing detect allergies?

No, there are currently no genetic tests that can reliably predict if someone will develop allergies. Testing only shows if you inherit a likelihood of allergies. Environmental exposures and triggers must occur too. However, testing can identify inherited risks for conditions like eczema or asthma that relate to allergies.

If my parents have allergies, will I have them?

No, but your odds increase significantly. With one allergic parent, a child’s risk is around 50%. With two allergic parents, the risk can exceed 70%. Some children skip generations though, developing allergies when their parents did not. Each child’s immune responses vary.

Can allergies develop later in life, even with no family history?

Yes – new allergies can appear at any age, even with no apparent inherited risk or childhood history. Environmental exposures over time can initiate allergies. And sensitivities often increase with age due to declining immune regulation. So adults can develop new allergic diseases.

Can getting allergy shots help prevent my children from developing allergies?

Maybe. Allergy shots (immunotherapy) work by reducing your immune system reactions to triggers you’re exposed to. Some evidence shows getting allergy shots before and during pregnancy may help prevent or reduce allergy risk in your children. The antibodies you build up get passed to the baby through the placenta and breastmilk, possibly protecting them. More research is still needed, but it’s a promising area. Even if allergy shots don’t fully prevent inheritance, reducing parental allergy symptoms can still benefit the child’s environment after birth.


The hereditary nature of allergies has profound impacts on individuals and families. Those with an atopic inheritance face higher odds of developing allergic diseases themselves one day if exposed to the right triggers. This creates an emphasis on prevention tactics from an early age including avoidance measures and building immune resilience. For expectant parents with allergies, appreciating increased risks in their children spurs preparation too – allergy-proofing homes before birth and being alert to early symptoms. More hopefully, expanding knowledge of the genetics underlying allergies promises to unlock advanced diagnostics to pinpoint specific risks sooner and guide targeted therapies. Though allergic predisposition can be passed to future generations, it does not have to manifest as an illness with sufficient safeguards in childhood environments. Ultimately a complex interplay of genetic risks and real-world exposures determines who develops allergies. Understanding this equation empowers both families and physicians to get ahead of the allergic march.