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Allergy Symptoms

Allergy symptoms can be difficult to cope with.

What Are Allergy Symptoms?

Allergies to substances including pollen, dust mites, molds, animal dander, latex, foods and insect venom affect more than 20 percent of adults and children in the United States, making them the sixth highest cause of chronic illness, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Fortunately, most people with allergies only ever experience mild to moderate symptoms, which can be managed by medication and other means, and are not life-threatening. Keep reading to learn more about common allergy symptoms.

What Is an Allergic Reaction?

An allergic reaction whether mild, moderate or severe occurs when the body responds to a harmless substance as if it were harmful by producing antibodies to the allergens, which it releases into the bloodstream. These antibodies cause the release of inflammatory chemicals that can lead to tissue swelling, as well as histamine and other chemicals that might cause itching, secretions and the tightening of the muscles around the airways.

Mild Allergy Symptoms

Mild allergic reactions only affect a specific area of the body and can include skin reactions such as:

  • Rash or hives
  • Red, watery or itchy eyes
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Ear fullness or popping
  • Congestion or difficulty breathing.
  • Moderate reactions can spread, as in the case of a rash that covers several different parts of the body.

Severe Allergy Symptoms

A severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, is a rare and life-threatening emergency in which the response is sudden and affects the whole body. The condition often begins with itching in the eyes and face and progresses rapidly to serious symptoms such as:

  • Swelling, which could result in breathing difficulties
  • Stomach pain
  • Cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hives
  • Angioedema (hives in the throat),
  • Mild confusion
  • Dizziness

Cold or Allergy Symptoms

According to the Food and Drug Administrations Division of Pulmonary and Allergy Drug Products, it is possible to distinguish mild and moderate allergy symptoms from a cold. A cold is usually short-lived, results in thicker nasal secretion, and is often accompanied by a sore throat, hoarseness, and fever. People with pollen allergies who make up about half of the allergy sufferers in the United States will also notice a seasonal pattern to their reactions, while those with allergies to mold, dander, dust, latex, foods or venom may be able to track the specific triggers to their symptoms.

If you suffer from mild or moderate symptoms that do not respond to over-the-counter medications and you are unable to track the cause of your reactions, you may need an allergy test. The most common type of test is a skin test showing reactions to pollen allergens such as ragweed or grass pollen.

Allergy Symptom Treatment

There are a number of treatment options for allergy sufferers. Over-the-counter medications such as nasal corticosteroids, oral antihistamines, decongestants and nonsteroidal nasal sprays are good first lines of defense, as is avoiding the allergen as much as possible. If these methods are inefficient or inadequate, talk to your doctor about prescription medications or allergy shots.

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