Allergy symptoms can be difficult to cope with.
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.
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 allergic reactions only affect a specific area of the body and can include skin reactions such as:
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:
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.
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.