What Are Typical Allergy Symptoms?
Allergy symptoms differ depending on the type of allergy and body part involved. For example, food allergies may cause different symptoms than nasal allergies or eye allergies. The severity of symptoms may also vary, ranging from mild irritation to a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis.
Typical symptoms of most allergies include:
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Hives, blisters, or rashes on the skin
- Skin redness or dryness
- Noisy breathing or wheezing
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Pain in the abdomen
- Malaise or a feeling of being unwell
- Swelling over the lips, tongue, around the eyes, or on the entire face
What are symptoms of anaphylaxis?
Symptoms of anaphylaxis generally include:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Swollen throat or mouth
- Severe difficulty breathing, swallowing, and talking
- Bluish discoloration of the lips or skin
- Nausea or vomiting
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should be taken to the emergency room immediately. If you have an epinephrine auto-injector available, such as an EpiPen, you should be administered a shot as soon as possible and go to the hospital, even if your symptoms subside after the injection.
What are allergies?
Allergies are one of the most common chronic health conditions seen in the world, affecting about 50 million people in North America.
The immune system helps fight infections and other harmful substances that enter the body. When there is an exaggerated immune response to an often-harmless trigger (allergen), the condition is called an allergy. Allergic reactions may occur in response to substances like pollen, dust, certain medications, and pet dander.
Allergy types are classified based on the type of immune response and the culprit allergen. One of the most common allergies is allergic rhinitis or hay fever. Other common allergies include allergic asthma, urticaria, food allergies, and allergic conjunctivitis (eye allergies)
How are allergies diagnosed?
Doctors generally diagnose allergies by taking your medical history, performing a physical exam, and ordering tests to confirm the cause of your symptoms.
Your doctor may ask you about how and when the symptoms appeared, whether you have a family history of allergies (like asthma or hay fever), and whether you are exposed to certain detergents, cosmetics, medications, pollen, pet dander, or insects.
A physical exam will be performed to look for any rashes, swellings, or cracked skin. It’s wise to visit an allergy specialist or immunologist before your symptoms subside so that the diagnosis can be more accurate.
Your doctor may order skin tests and blood tests, which can help confirm that your symptoms are caused by an allergy and something else, like an infection.
Allergy skin tests may also help identify the allergens responsible for your symptoms. During an allergy skin test, an allergist will prick the skin (usually on your forearm or back) with an extract of an allergen and then check the skin’s reaction. In some cases, a small amount of allergen is injected into the skin to check for any allergic reaction (intradermal test).
Other types of tests may be ordered depending on your symptoms and the type of allergy you have. These include patch tests, challenge tests, and elimination diet tests.
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