Allergies are Hereditary—and Gender Matters

Conventional wisdom tells us that if one of your parents has allergies, you have a 50 percent chance of developing allergies yourself. If both of your parents have allergies, your risk ascends to 75 percent. But recent research has added a new spin on those statistics, showing that hereditary allergies tend to follow gender lines.

Allergies are Hereditary

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Professor Hasan Arshad, DM, who advises in the field of allergy and immunology at Southampton General Hospital in England, tracked 1,500 patients for 18 years, with periodic checkups to monitor their allergies. Parents and children were subjected to regular tests including skin prick tests, blood tests, and spirometry to measure allergic sensitivities.

The tests tracked specific symptoms, including asthma and eczema. Results showed that the incidence of these symptoms in girls increased if their mothers were prone to these conditions. Conversely, boys had a higher incidence of asthma and eczema if their fathers suffered from these ailments.

Allergies are most common in childhood, but they can develop at any age. They are the result of a confused immune system that overreacts to harmless elements in the environment such as pollen, mold, dust, and food proteins. The body should simply ignore these allergens, but instead, it perceives them as enemy invaders, likening them to germs or bacteria. It releases chemicals like histamine into the body to fight the “attackers” off. The sad result is that the attack only ends up hurting the body. Histamine causes inflammation of the nasal passages, airways, eyes, skin, and sinuses. It makes you feel miserable and can even cause life-threatening reactions.

If you have inherited allergies, the good news is that you’re not stuck with them. Through allergy immunotherapy, you can desensitize your immune system to allergens so that it will ignore them rather than overreacting to them.

Allergy immunotherapy is available through allergy shots or sublingual immunotherapy (oral allergy drops). Both are effective, but allergy drops are safer and can be taken at home. Talk to your doctor about prescribing sublingual immunotherapy or allergy shots for long term allergy relief.

About The Author

Stuart H. Agren, M.D.

Stuart H. Agren, M.D. completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Utah and went on to earn his Doctor of Medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in 1974. He completed additional training at L.D.S. Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah and then established his private medical practice starting in 1975. Dr. Agren completed a mini-residency in Industrial Medicine at the Robert Johnson School of Medicine at Rutgers University and also completed training to become a certified Medical Review Officer.

Dr. Agren was the Medical Director at TRW and McDonnell Douglas in Mesa, Arizona and at Stauffer Chemical and Kennecott Copper in Salt Lake City, Utah. He also served as an adjunct faculty member at Arizona State University.

In his private medical practice, Dr. Agren specialized in family practice and allergy. In his work as a private practice allergist, he was one of the first doctors in the country to prescribe sublingual immunotherapy to his patients as an alternative to subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots). He has also been a trailblazer in the field of food allergy treatment and research, developing a program to treat multiple food allergies simultaneously using sublingual immunotherapy. Dr. Agren has been featured on local CBS, NBC, and ABC news affiliates and won the peer-nominated “Top Doc” award from Phoenix Magazine.

After 20 years in private practice, Dr. Agren became the Founder and President of AllergyEasy, which helps primary care physicians around the country offer allergy testing and sublingual immunotherapy treatment to their patients. Over 200 physicians in over 32 states use the AllergyEasy program to help their patients overcome environmental and food allergies and asthma.