Allergies Center

Allergy Symptoms

A wide array of allergens exist that affect the body.  Additionally, there are a number of ways that an allergen can come into contact with the body (e.g. ingestion versus touching).  Therefore, allergy symptoms can manifest themselves in different ways.  Depending upon the severity of an allergic reaction, symptoms may occur immediately, or may take several days to appear.  

Symptoms of allergies - Common symptoms of allergies include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Burning, tearing, or itchy eyes
  • Conjunctivitis (red, swollen eyes)
  • Coughing
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry skin
  • Headache
  • Hives
  • Itching or tingling of the nose, mouth, throat, skin, or any other area
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting
  • Runny nose
  • Skin rashes
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Wheezing

In contrast to these usually non-life threatening symptoms, anaphylaxis due to an insect sting or allergic reaction to medication has more serious symptoms, which may occur within a matter of minutes or even seconds.  These symptoms require emergency medical attention, as immediate death could occur.  Call 911 or visit the emergency room if you are experiencing

  • Constriction and tightening of airways
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or loss of consciousness
  • Rapid pulse
  • Shock, with a severe drop in blood pressure
  • Swollen throat or a lump in your throat that makes it difficult to breathe

Types of allergic reactions - People can experience different types of allergic reactions.  However, different types of allergic reactions may present more or less similar responses.  Following is a list of the most common allergy responses in the body.

Allergic rhinitis - An allergic reaction characterized by nasal congestion, runny nose, coughing, headache, or sneeze.  Often triggered by indoor allergens, or may occur seasonally (e.g. hay fever).  'Hay fever,' refers to any allergen from trees, mold spores, weeds, and grasses and this reaction usually begins in Spring, and lasts until the Fall.  

Contact dermatitis - An allergy that affects the skin, which becomes inflamed, itchy, and red.  Caused by any number of things can cause from plants, to chemicals, to cosmetics, to metals.

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) - An extremely itchy area of the skin appears red and dry.  After scratching the itch, a rash appears.  Sometimes, the rash 'oozes.'  Continual scratching will thicken the skin, giving it more of a leathery feel.  Eczema is thought to be an allergic reaction to soaps, disinfectants, juices from fruits and vegetables, salvia from animals, dust mites, etc.

Urticaria (hives) - May be a reaction to food, latex, viral infections, or medicine. During this type of allergy, areas of the body are itchy, red, and swollen, with a variety of locations throughout the body and of different sizes.  Typically, an area of the body will have batches of red rings that occur in one place, disappear and reoccur on another place of the body within a short period of time. 

Ask your family doctor for more information about allergies if you are experiencing discomfort, and want to lessen the severity of your symptoms.  Regardless of whether you have minor allergies or a more severe allergic reaction, your doctor may be able to help you in identify allergen(s) that trigger allergic reactions.  To find out how doctors diagnose allergies via allergy testing, read the How to diagnose an allergy section that follows.  

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