Are Allergies Hereditary?
Are Allergies Hereditary?
Learning more about health and wellness is one of the big motivations for taking an at-home DNA test.
With a DNA test, you can find out your risk of developing certain genetic diseases and conditions. Understanding these risks allows you to take the right precautions and alter habits that could increase the likelihood of developing a health problem.
Allergy hereditary test results, in particular, may provide insight into how you can reduce symptoms and prevent potentially dangerous reactions.
People who suffer from allergies, including food allergies, frequently wonder if their itchy eyes or inability to eat peanuts is genetic. In other words, are food allergies hereditary? The short answer is yes.
Can You Inherit Allergies?
Diet and environment play major roles in developing allergies, and so does genetics. Several studies have confirmed that allergies can be passed through genes — children are roughly 50% more likely to be allergic to a given substance if one of their parents is allergic to it. If both of your parents were allergic to bee stings, you would have a roughly 75% chance of inheriting the condition.
Are Food Allergies Hereditary?
Like other types of allergies, food allergies are caused by a combination of genetics and environmental triggers. A study review published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reviewed the genetic mechanisms that contribute to food allergies.
The review concluded that a component of heritability was observed across multiple studies. In some cases, population-based food allergies were also observed.
Some of the most alarming food allergy reactions are caused by peanuts. People with extreme peanut allergies can even be affected by eating foods that were processed in a factory where peanuts were present. Understandably, parents who have lived with life-threatening allergies are concerned about passing them on to their children.
A study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that the gene regions of HLA-DR and -DQ are linked to peanut allergies. Another study concluded that people with a close relative who has a peanut allergy are 14 times more likely to develop a peanut allergy themselves.
Dairy allergies are the most common food allergy among children and adults. Allergies to cow’s milk and other milk products are usually evident in children in the first 12 months of life. There are several causes for dairy allergy, including gastrointestinal disorders, but genetics are also believed to play a major role.
The genetic component in dairy allergies is an example of population-based allergies. The rates of dairy allergy differ widely across world populations. For example, fewer than 1% of children in Israel experience dairy allergies, but more than 10% of children in Australia are allergic to cow’s milk and milk products. It is not completely clear why food allergy rates can differ among populations, but a genetic link is suspected.
Symptoms of Food Allergies
In addition to asking, “Are food allergies hereditary?” many people wonder if the symptoms of food allergies present differently than the symptoms of environmental allergies.
The symptoms of a food allergy can develop within a few minutes of eating or being exposed to the problematic food, or it can take up to two hours.
Common symptoms include:
- Itching, tingling in the mouth
- Swelling of the face, tongue, lips, or throat
- Nasal congestion
- Diarrhea, vomiting, nausea
- Abdominal pain
- Dizziness or fainting
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction related to food allergies. Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include:
- Tightening of the airways
- Rapid pulse
- Swelling of the throat that makes it difficult to breath
- Severe drop in blood pressure
If you suspect someone is experiencing anaphylactic shock, call emergency services right away. Without treatment, anaphylaxis can lead to coma or death.
For millions of people, allergies amount to more than the sniffles. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates that around 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from some type of allergy. In fact, allergies are the sixth leading chronic illness in our country.
Allergies are the result of a fault in the immune system. When your immune system registers certain foreign substances like pollen, pet dander, or specific foods as harmful (even when they aren’t), it produces antibodies to fight off what it sees as a dangerous attack. This can cause a range of symptoms, including:
- Red, inflamed skin
- Sinus problems, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Digestive problems
- Inflamed airways or constricted breathing
- Tingling in the mouth or other areas
- Hives, rashes, or itchiness
Depending on the allergen and your body’s reaction to it, allergy symptoms can be mild to life-threatening, such as anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock, or anaphylaxis, is an extreme reaction during which the body’s systems begin to shut down. If not treated immediately, anaphylaxis can lead to death.
Unfortunately, allergies can’t be cured. But people can grow out of them with time, and many treatments are available to help ease symptoms.
Food allergies have the same root cause as other types of allergies. They’re typically more serious than most environmental allergies, as they can trigger severe reactions, including anaphylaxis.
People can also be allergic to over-the-counter and prescription medications and herbal supplements. In this case, the immune system reacts to one or more of the ingredients used to make the medication. Drug allergies can also result in life-threatening anaphylaxis.
Allergy testing is typically not done unless a person displays symptoms of allergies. In the case of life-threatening allergens, people have no way of knowing they’re in danger until they have an encounter with that substance.
For example, you may never know you’re allergic to penicillin until you’re prescribed the medication, or you may not realize your child is allergic to peanuts until they experience a life-threatening reaction while eating a peanut butter sandwich.
Allergy hereditary tests give individuals a safer way to learn if they have allergies so they can avoid potentially dangerous substances.
Allergy Skin Tests Vs. DNA Tests
You may wonder why someone seeking the best allergy test results would use DNA testing when skin tests are available. Allergy skin tests are useful for diagnosing many allergic conditions, including:
- Allergies to food or penicillin
- Allergies to bee venom
- Allergic asthma
Skin tests are generally considered safe, but they may not be appropriate for everyone. People with certain skin conditions, those who take certain medications, and those who’ve experienced severe allergic reactions in the past might not be good candidates for traditional allergy skin tests.
Skin testing also requires subjects to be injected with minute amounts of various allergens — sometimes dozens at once. Discomfort, including typical allergy symptoms, is expected. However, severe allergic reactions are also possible. That’s why skin tests should always be conducted in a medical setting where appropriate emergency equipment is available.
Allergy hereditary test results don’t require getting dozens of skin-patch tests and don’t put you at risk of a life-threatening allergic reaction.
Learning about your allergies through DNA testing is safe, easy, painless, and typically less costly than traditional testing. Furthermore, DNA tests can provide results for almost any known allergen, while skin tests are only accurate for the ones being tested.
How Do DNA Allergy Tests Work?
DNA tests are not diagnostic and don’t provide the information needed to prove you have a certain condition. Instead, they show your susceptibility or risk for developing a condition.
In the case of allergy testing, results show if your genotype is more or less vulnerable to certain allergens. The best allergy test results also offer complementary information like:
- How to recognize allergy symptoms in their early stages
- Which vitamin supplements might reduce your risk of developing symptoms
- Whether more medical testing is advisable
DNA testing may also offer information on autoimmune diseases and immune hypersensitivity issues. Not only do you get the best allergy test results, but you also get information about your immune system as a whole. Understanding more about the function of your immune system gives you the opportunity to improve your health and avoid allergic reactions before they occur.
You should discuss all medical information gleaned from at-home DNA tests with a qualified medical professional. Your physician can recommend further diagnostic testing and address treatment options if necessary.
DNA Testing: The Best Allergy Test Results
If you’re concerned about hereditary allergies, DNA testing provides several advantages over traditional skin testing.
It’s non-invasive, offers definitive results, and is easy to carry out for people of all ages, even children too young for skin tests. Testing for allergies in this way can help you identify the source of your symptoms and avoid serious reactions before they have a chance to become a threat.
If you are a parent with food allergies and are asking the question, “Are food allergies hereditary?” DNA testing may put your mind at ease. Though there is a possibility you could pass allergy genes to your child, having a greater genetic risk for an illness does not guarantee your child will develop the same allergy.
At-home DNA tests provide a wealth of information that can support your wellness goals. To learn more about your DNA test results and how they can benefit your life, contact Genomelink today.