Growing up with allergies: Transitioning from adolescence to adulthood

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Annals of allergy, asthma & immunology : official publication of the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology




Allergic disease management for adolescents and young adults requires consideration of unique psychosocial challenges and opportunities. Erik Erikson's model for the Stages of Psychosocial Development is a useful lens through which we can understand adolescent and young adult experiences with allergic and immunologic disease, particularly with regard to identity and relationship development. It is important to provide anticipatory guidance for patients who are transitioning environments (eg, home to college), with attention to the anxiety-provoking demands for increased responsibility on top of new stressors such as academic and vocational demands. It is critical that health care professionals use an empathetic, shared decision-making approach regarding the emotional impact of allergy on a patient's social engagement. A patient's ability to develop positive lifelong habits is also shaped by their environment's "culture of wellness," and clinicians can encourage habits to promote healthy choices and effective disease management. Social media provides opportunities and challenges as a conduit for both social connection and possible misinformation. Overall, allergic disease management in adolescents and young adults is a "high-risk, high-reward" period of time-and with awareness, anticipation, and proactive action, health care professionals can better serve patients by leveraging this transitional period to promote positive approaches to management of allergies and asthma, trusting relationships, and personal responsibility.