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Allergy in body: Types, Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

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Types, Symptoms, Causes & Treatments

Overview

What are allergies?

Allergies are your body’s reaction to a substance it views as a harmful “invader.” For example, coming into contact with what is normally a harmless substance, such as pollen, might cause your immune system (your body’s defense system) to react. Substances that cause these reactions are called allergens.

What is an allergic reaction?

An “allergic reaction” is the way your body responds to the allergen. A chain of events occur that result in an allergic reaction.

If you are prone to allergies, the first time you’re exposed to a specific allergen (such as pollen), your body responds by producing allergic (IgE) antibodies. The job of these antibodies is to find the allergens and help remove them from your system. As a result, a chemical called histamine is released and causes symptoms of allergies.

What are the types of allergies and how are they treated?

You can be allergic to a wide variety of substances – including pollen, animal dander, mold and dust mites.

Pollen

Seasonal allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is an allergic response to pollen. It causes inflammation and swelling of the lining of your nose and of the protective tissue of your eyes (conjunctiva).

Symptoms include sneezing, congestion (feeling stuffy), and itchy, watery eyes, nose and mouth. Treatment options include over-the-counter and prescription oral antihistamines, anti-leukotrienes, nasal steroids, nasal antihistamines, and nasal cromolyn. In some people, allergic asthma symptoms (wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, and/ or chest tightness) can be caused by exposure to pollen.

Your symptoms can be reduced by avoiding pollen. Stay indoors when pollen counts are high, close your windows, and use air conditioning. Ask your healthcare provider about immunotherapy (“allergy shots”) to treat pollen allergy.

Dust mites

Dust mites are tiny organisms that live in dust and in the fibers of household objects, such as pillows, mattresses, carpet, and upholstery. Dust mites grow in warm, humid areas.

The symptoms of dust mite allergy are similar to those of pollen allergy. To help manage dust mite allergies, try using dust mite encasements (airtight plastic/polyurethane covers) over pillows, mattresses, and box springs. Also, remove carpet, or vacuum frequently with a high-efficiency filter vacuum cleaner. Treatment may include medications to control your nasal/eye and chest symptoms. Immunotherapy may be recommended if your symptoms are not adequately controlled with avoidance methods and medications.

Molds

Molds are tiny fungi (like Penicillium) with spores that float in the air like pollen. Mold is a common trigger for allergies. Mold can be found indoors in damp areas, such as the basement, kitchen, or bathroom, as well as outdoors in grass, leaf piles, hay, mulch or under mushrooms. Mold spores reach a peak during hot, humid weather.

Treatment may include medications to control your nasal/eye and chest symptoms. Immunotherapy may be recommended if your symptoms are not adequately controlled with avoidance and medications.

Animal dander

Allergic reactions can be caused by the proteins secreted by sweat glands in an animal’s skin, which are shed in dander, and by the proteins in an animal’s saliva. Avoidance measures don’t work as well as simply removing the pet from your home. However, because many people are reluctant to do this, second-best measures include keeping your pet out of your bedroom, using air cleaners with HEPA filtration and washing your pet (cat or dog) frequently.

Treatment may include medications to control your nasal/eye and chest symptoms. Immunotherapy may be recommended if your symptoms are not adequately controlled with avoidance methods and medications.

Latex

Some people develop a latex allergy after repeated contact with latex. Rubber gloves, such as those used in surgery or home cleaning, are a major source for causing this type of reaction. Skin rash, hives, eye tearing and irritation, wheezing and itching of the skin may occur if you have a latex allergy.

Allergic reactions to latex can be mild, such as skin redness and itching. More severe reactions can occur if your mucosal membranes are exposed, such as during an operation or a dental or gynecologic exam.

Treatment of latex reactions begins by removing the offending latex product. If you have latex allergy, it is important for you to wear a Medic Alert® bracelet and carry an emergency epinephrine kit. All procedures should be carried out in a “latex-safe” fashion. There is no cure for latex allergy, so the best treatment for this condition is prevention and avoidance.

Certain foods

Food allergies develop when your body develops a specific antibody to a specific food. An allergic reaction occurs within minutes of eating the food, and symptoms can be severe. In adults, the most common food allergies are shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts. In children, they include milk, egg, soy, wheat, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts.

If you have a food allergy, your symptoms include itching, hives, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties and swelling around your mouth.

It is extremely important to avoid the foods that cause allergy symptoms. If you (or your child) have a food allergy, your doctor may prescribe injectable epinephrine (adrenaline) for you to carry at all times. This is needed in case you accidentally eat foods that cause allergies. There are new therapies for peanut allergies called oral immunotherapy.

Insect venom (stings)

If you get a bee sting, a normal reaction includes pain, swelling and redness around the sting site. A large, local reaction includes swelling that extends beyond the sting site. For example, if you are stung on the ankle, you may see swelling in your leg.

The most serious reaction to an insect sting is an allergic one, which needs immediate medical attention. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to an insect sting include:

  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Generalized (widespread) hives that appear as a red, itchy rash that spreads to areas other than the area that was stung.
  • Swelling of your face, throat or mouth tissue.
  • Wheezing or difficulty swallowing.
  • Restlessness and anxiety.
  • Rapid pulse.
  • Dizziness or a sharp drop in your blood pressure.

If you have a reaction like this, a re-sting can cause a serious reaction that can be life-threatening.

An allergic reaction is treated with epinephrine (adrenaline). If you’ve had an allergic reaction to bee stings, see a board-certified allergy/immunologist to get a skin and/or blood test to confirm your allergy to bee venom. Venom immunotherapy is recommended if venom allergy is confirmed. This will help reduce the possibility that a re-sting will cause a serious reaction.

What is allergic rhinitis?

Nasal allergy symptoms and hay fever are referred to as “allergic rhinitis. ” Seasonal allergic rhinitis is nasal allergies that change with the seasons because of pollen from plants (trees, grasses, or weeds). Seasonal symptoms arise during the pollinating seasons for particular plants. Because you can be allergic to more than one thing, your symptoms may get worse at different times throughout the year, or may be constant.

Does everyone get allergies?

No. Most allergies are inherited, which means they are passed on to children by their parents. People inherit a tendency to be allergic, although not to any specific allergen. If your child develops an allergy, it is very likely that you or your partner has allergies.

How common are allergies?

More than 50 million Americans (1 in 6) experience all types of allergies, including indoor/outdoor allergies, food and drug, latex, insect, skin and eye allergies. The number of people who have allergies continues to increase across all ages, sex and racial groups.

Allergic Reactions: Symptoms, Triggers, and Treatments

Some people sneeze like crazy. Others get itchy hives or watery eyes. But whatever the reaction, it boils down to one thing: allergies.

If you have allergies, you have lots of company. As many as 30% of U.S. adults and 40% of children are in the same boat as you.

While your problem may seem to start in the nose or the eyes, allergies actually come from an immune system run wild.

Learning why these reactions happen can help you keep things under control and feel better.

Why Allergic Reactions Happen

Your immune system has an important job: to defend your body from invaders such as bacteria and viruses that mean you harm.

But when it makes war on substances it shouldn’t, that’s an allergy.

Peanuts, eggs, or pollen, for example, can trigger reactions. They are called allergens.

During a reaction, your immune system releases antibodies. These are proteins that deliver a message to cells: Stop that substance! The cells then send out histamine, which causes blood vessels to expand, and other chemicals, and these trigger the allergy symptoms.

These antibodies are singled-minded. Each one targets only one type of allergen. That explains why someone might be allergic to peanuts but not to eggs.

You can come into contact with allergens in many ways: through the skin, eyes, nose, mouth, or stomach. This can cause your sinuses to clog up, inflame your skin, make it harder to breathe, or cause stomach problems.

What Things Most Often Cause an Attack?

Why do some people have such bad allergies and others don’t? Experts don’t have all the answers, but they say family history is important.

Some common allergens include:

The Symptoms, From Itchy Eyes to Sneezing

Your allergy attacks might range from mild and annoying to more severe and even life-threatening. It all depends on the way your body reacts and how much of the allergen got into your system.

If your allergy is severe, you may have a serious reaction called anaphylaxis. Some cases could be life-threatening and need urgent attention.

Here are some common types of allergies:

Hay fever: Also known as allergic rhinitis, it can cause:

Food allergies: You may feel tingling in your mouth. Your tongue, lips, throat, or face might swell up. Or you could get hives. In the worst cases, you might have anaphylaxis and will need medical help right away.

Eczema: Also known as atopic dermatitis, it is a skin condition. Most types of eczema are not allergies. But the disease can flare up when you’re around things that cause an allergic reaction. Your body’s immune system overreacts to substances, called allergens, that are usually not harmful. You might get hives, itching, swelling, sneezing, and a runny nose. You might have it if you have itching, redness, and peeling or flaking.

Medications: If you’re allergic to a certain drug, you may get a rash, facial swelling, or hives. You could find yourself wheezing. In severe cases, you may develop anaphylaxis.

Stings: If you’re allergic to bees or other insects you may get:

  • A large area of swelling, known as edema, at the site of the sting
  • Itching or hives all over your body
  • Shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, or a cough

As with some other allergies, such as food and medication, a severe reaction to a sting can lead to anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis: What Is It and How to Get Help

Most people with allergies get only mild to moderate symptoms, but bad cases can lead to anaphylaxis.

It’s a serious situation and can put your body into shock. Food, medications, insect bites, or latex are the most likely causes.

A second anaphylactic episode can happen up to 12 hours after the first one.

The symptoms of anaphylaxis can come on suddenly.

They can quickly go from a mild rash or runny nose to serious problems such as a hard time breathing, tightness in the throat, hives or swelling, nausea or vomiting, and fainting or dizziness. Some people can get a rapid pulse or their heart will stop beating.

If you’ve had previous attacks or know you are at risk for anaphylaxis, your doctor might prescribe medicine that you can give yourself, or that someone else can give you. Adrenaclick, Auvi-Q, EpiPen, Symjepi or a generic version of an epinephrine auto-injector​​​​​​​ are devices loaded with this medicine.

Carry this with you always and be aware of your allergy triggers.

Call 911 and go straight to an emergency room at the first sign of trouble, even if you have used the injection device. Go even if you are starting to feel better, in case you have a delayed reaction.

How Can I Get Relief?

You can find treatment options for mild to moderate allergic reactions. Antihistamines and decongestants can help treat certain symptoms, as can nasal sprays.

If you have an allergic-type asthma, your doctor might also prescribe an inhaler to ease attacks. Or they may inject a special antibody to manage symptoms.

If you don’t get enough relief by avoiding your allergens and using medications, your doctor may want to give you allergy shots. This type of treatment is called immunotherapy, and it can be effective for hay fever and allergic asthma.

Another type of immunotherapy involves tablets that dissolve under your tongue.

For your sinuses, an over-the-counter medication might ease your symptoms.

Skin Allergy Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment & Management

Irritated skin can be caused by a variety of factors. These include immune system disorders, medications and infections. When an allergen is responsible for triggering an immune system response, then it is an allergic skin condition.

Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

Eczema is the most common skin condition, especially in children. It affects one in five infants but only around one in fifty adults. It is now thought to be due to “leakiness” of the skin barrier, which causes it to dry out and become prone to irritation and inflammation by many environmental factors. Also, some young children with eczema have a food sensitivity which can make eczema symptoms worse. In about half of patients with severe atopic dermatitis, the disease is due to inheritance of a faulty gene in their skin called filaggrin. Unlike with urticaria (hives), the itch of eczema is not only caused by histamine so anti-histamines may not control the symptoms. Eczema is often linked with asthma, allergic rhinitis (hay fever) or food allergy. This order of progression is called the atopic march.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis

Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when your skin comes in direct contact with an allergen. For instance, if you have a nickel allergy and your skin comes in contact with jewelry made with even a very small amount of nickel, you may develop red, bumpy, scaly, itchy or swollen skin at the point of contact.

Coming in contact with poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac can also cause allergic contact dermatitis. The red, itchy rash is caused by an oily coating covering these plants. The allergic reaction can come from actually touching them, or by touching clothing, pets or even gardening tools that have come in contact with the oil.

Urticaria (Hives)

Hives are an inflammation of the skin triggered when the immune system releases histamine. This causes small blood vessels to leak, which leads to swelling in the skin. Swelling in deep layers of the skin is called angioedema. There are two kinds of urticaria, acute and chronic. Acute urticaria occurs at times after eating a particular food or coming in contact with a particular trigger. It can also be triggered by non-allergic causes such as heat or exercise, as well as medications, foods, insect bites or infections. Chronic urticaria is rarely caused by specific triggers and so allergy tests are usually not helpful. Chronic urticaria can last for many months or years. Although they are often uncomfortable and sometimes painful, hives are not contagious.

Angioedema

Angioedema is swelling in the deep layers of the skin. It is often seen together with urticaria (hives). Angioedema many times occurs in soft tissues such as the eyelids, mouth or genitals. Angioedema is called “acute” if the condition lasts only a short time such as minutes to hours. Acute angioedema is commonly caused by an allergic reaction to medications or foods. Chronic recurrent angioedema is when the condition returns over a long period of time. It typically does not have an identifiable cause.

Hereditary angiodema (HAE)

Hereditary angiodema (HAE) is a rare, but serious genetic condition involving swelling in various body parts including the hands, feet, face, intestinal wall and airways. It does not respond to treatment with antihistamines or adrenaline so it is important to go see a specialist.

Skin conditions are one of the most common forms of allergy treated and managed by an allergist / immunologist, a physician with specialized training and expertise to accurately diagnose your condition and provide relief for your symptoms.


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Itching, redness and swelling are common to most skin allergies. Yet there are some differences that help in the diagnosis of specific conditions.

Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)
Symptoms

Itchy, red or dry skin. It may “weep” or leak fluid that crusts over when scratched, which means that it is also infected.

In infants, eczema often appears on the face. Children are prone to have the rash at the bends of the elbow joint, wrists, behind the knees and behind the ears. Adolescents and young adults typically have the rash in the same locations as children, as well as on the hands and feet.

Patients with the faulty filaggrin gene often have hand eczema with excessive little lines on the skin of their palms.

Diagnosis

In many children, the exact cause of the eczema is not clear and treatment depends on regular use of moisturizer and topical medicines to dampen down the inflammation. One such treatment is topical steroids. In children where the skin is oozing, crusting and painful, an infection that needs treatment with antibiotics may be the primary trigger.

Infants and young children with more severe eczema should be evaluated for food allergy. It’s important to see an allergist / immunologist for diagnosis and management. It is often needed to receive input from a dietitian as well.

Food allergies causing eczema are much less common in older children and adults. If you are suspected of having eczema that is caused by a food allergy, a confirmed diagnosis requires avoiding the trigger food for about four weeks with the help of a dietitian before doing a food challenge under your doctor’s supervision to confirm that the food was actually causing the flare.

Urticaria (Hives) and Angioedema
Symptoms

Urticaria is itchy, red and white raised bumps or welts that range in size and can appear anywhere on the body. Angioedema often appears on the face around the eyes, cheeks or lips. This deeper layer of swelling can also occur on hands, feet, genitals, or inside the bowels or throat. In acute urticaria, the welts disappear within minutes to a few weeks. Chronic hives last for months or even years.

Diagnosis

In the majority of chronic cases, the exact cause cannot be determined. Routine testing such as general blood counts or screens are not cost-effective, nor do these tests make a difference in treatment strategies to relieve the symptoms. There are certain instances when allergy testing is helpful, especially when eating a particular food or coming in contact with a particular substance triggers symptoms of acute hives.

Videos: Choosing Wisely »

 

Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema)

Eczema is sometimes described as an “itch which rashes. ” The rash is caused by scratching, so the more the patient scratches the more severe the rash will be. This is why it’s important to avoid scratching.

The most effective way to treat eczema is to use moisturizers and topical ointments that reduce the inflammation e.g. topical steroids, calcineurin inhibitors or a phosphodiesterase 4 inhibitor. The itch is not relieved by antihistamines although these are sometimes used at night to help people with eczema sleep. Dupilumab is an injectable biologic therapy that is used to treat adults and children 6 years of age and older with moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis that is otherwise difficult to control.

Antibiotics may be prescribed if a skin bacterial infection is suspected as a trigger for your eczema flare-up. Symptoms include crusting, oozing and pain. Oral steroids should be avoided, as although they are effective the eczema usually returns when the medicine is stopped. Oral steroids can also cause serious side-effects if taken for long periods of time.

Sometimes cotton undergarments and body suits help protect the skin from irritants and from scratching. Avoid using soap products that contain sodium laurel sulfate and any triggers that cause a reaction. Your allergist will be able to help determine whether there is a trigger that can be avoided.

These skin allergy treatment and management strategies can relieve social challenges as well. People with eczema, especially children, are sometimes ignored or singled out by others who believe the rash is contagious.

Urticaria (Hives) and Angioedema

If the cause of your hives can be identified, you can manage the condition by avoiding that trigger. Treating hives or angioedema is often successful with oral antihistamines that control the itch and recurrence of the rash.

If the rash is not controlled with a standard dose of the antihistamine, your doctor may suggest increasing the dose for better control of your symptoms. If antihistamines do not control the rash, or if it leaves bruises, then it is important that your doctor rules out other causes which may need alternative therapies. Sometimes chronic hives without a known cause may be resistant to antihistamine treatment. Omalizumab is an injectable biologic therapy that may be useful in such cases.

If you are on certain blood pressure medicines (ACE inhibitors) and develop angioedema, it is important to consult your doctor. Changing to another blood pressure medicine may help the angioedema go away.

Allergies explained – Better Health Channel

An allergy occurs when the body overreacts to an allergen or ‘trigger’ that is typically harmless to most people. Examples of allergies include hay fever, asthma, eczema, hives and food allergy. Estimates suggest that about one person in four is allergic to something and roughly half of all allergy sufferers are children. The symptoms of an allergy range from mild to severe. The most severe type of allergic reaction is anaphylaxis, which may cause death without prompt medical attention. In most cases, effective treatments are available to manage or treat allergy symptoms.  

Symptoms of allergies

Symptoms depend on the allergy, but may include:

  • Swelling of lips, face, eyes.
  • Sneezing.
  • Runny nose.
  • Red, watery and itchy eyes.
  • Wheeze or persistent cough.
  • Breathing problems.
  • Swelling tongue and tightness of throat.
  • Headache.
  • Skin rash.
  • Stomach pains.
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea.

Do not self-diagnose. The symptoms and signs of allergies are common to many other medical conditions. It is important to see your doctor for professional diagnosis and treatment.

Common allergens

A substance in the environment that can cause an allergic reaction in susceptible people is called an ‘allergen’. There are many different allergens, but they all share one thing in common – protein. Some allergens don’t contain protein to begin with, but bind with protein once inside the body to provoke the allergic reaction. 

Common allergens include: 

  • Food – such as crustaceans, eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, tree nuts (for example, almonds, cashews, pecans and walnuts), sesame and soy products.
  • Plants – pollen from grasses and plants.
  • Medicines – including prescription medications (such as penicillin), over-the-counter medicines (such as aspirin) and herbal preparations.
  • Insects – such as dust mites and the venom from bees, ticks, ants and wasps.
  • Moulds – such as mushroom and mould spores.
  • Animal dander – such as the fur and skin flakes from domestic pets such as cats and dogs.
  • Chemicals – including industrial and household chemicals and chemical products such as latex rubber.

The immune system reaction

Allergy is the result of mistaken identity. An allergen enters the body and is wrongly identified by the immune system as a dangerous substance. In response, the immune system makes antibodies to attack the allergen. These are specific antibodies of the IgE (immunoglobulin E) class. 

When an allergen is found, IgE antibodies trigger a cascade of immune system reactions, including the release of chemicals known as mast cell chemicals. These are substances that the body normally uses to destroy micro-organisms. The most common of these is histamine. In small amounts, histamine causes itching and reddening of the local area. In large amounts, the nearby blood vessels become dilated and the area swells with accumulated fluid.

The immune system’s tendency to overreact to a harmless substance is thought to be genetic. The term ‘atopy’ describes this genetic tendency. Doctors describe a person who has an allergy as being ‘atopic’ – such people usually have raised levels of IgE in their blood. 

Where to get help

Allergic Reaction | HealthLink BC

Are you concerned about an allergic reaction?

Yes

Allergic reaction concerns

No

Allergic reaction concerns

How old are you?

Less than 12 years

Less than 12 years

12 years or older

12 years or older

Are you male or female?

Why do we ask this question?

The medical assessment of symptoms is based on the body parts you have.

  • If you are transgender or non-binary, choose the sex that matches the body parts (such as ovaries, testes, prostate, breasts, penis, or vagina) you now have in the area where you are having symptoms.
  • If your symptoms aren’t related to those organs, you can choose the gender you identify with.
  • If you have some organs of both sexes, you may need to go through this triage tool twice (once as “male” and once as “female”). This will make sure that the tool asks the right questions for you.

Could you be having a severe allergic reaction?

This is more likely if you have had a bad reaction to something in the past.

Yes

Possible severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)

No

Possible severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)

Have you ever had a severe allergic reaction?

A severe allergic reaction affects the whole body. Your doctor may have called it anaphylaxis.

Yes

History of severe allergic reaction

No

History of severe allergic reaction

Have you been exposed to the same thing (or something similar to it) that caused a severe reaction in the past?

For example, this could be an insect, a certain food, or a type of medicine or drug.

Yes

Reexposed to substance that caused past severe reaction

No

No new exposure to substance that caused past severe reaction

Not sure

Possibly reexposed to substance that caused past severe reaction

If your allergen exposure happened in the last 2 days, are you having any symptoms of an allergic reaction now, even mild ones?

Yes

History of severe reaction with symptoms now

No

History of severe reaction with symptoms now

Are you having trouble breathing (more than a stuffy nose)?

Yes

Difficulty breathing more than a stuffy nose

No

Difficulty breathing more than a stuffy nose

Is there any new swelling?

Are the lips, tongue, mouth, or throat swollen?

Yes

Swelling of lips, tongue, mouth, or throat

No

Swelling of lips, tongue, mouth, or throat

Did the lips, tongue, mouth, or throat swell quickly?

Yes

Rapid swelling of lips, tongue, mouth, or throat

No

Rapid swelling of lips, tongue, mouth, or throat

Does swelling involve the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, or the area from one large joint to another, such as from the ankle to the knee?

Yes

Swelling is across two joints, on soles of feet, or on palms of hands

No

Swelling is across two joints, on soles of feet, or on palms of hands

Is the swelling getting worse (over hours or days)?

Yes

Swelling is getting worse

No

Swelling is getting worse

Did you get an epinephrine shot to treat the reaction?

Yes

Has had epinephrine shot

No

Has had epinephrine shot

Is most of your body covered in hives?

Hives are raised, red, itchy patches of skin. They usually have red borders and pale centres. They may seem to move from place to place on the skin.

Yes

Hives covering most of body

No

Hives covering most of body

Did the hives appear within the past 3 hours?

Yes

Hives appeared within past 3 hours

No

Hives appeared within past 3 hours

Do you think you may have a fever?

Are there red streaks leading away from the area or pus draining from it?

Do you have diabetes, a weakened immune system, peripheral arterial disease, or any surgical hardware in the area?

“Hardware” includes things like artificial joints, plates or screws, catheters, and medicine pumps.

Yes

Diabetes, immune problems, peripheral arterial disease, or surgical hardware in affected area

No

Diabetes, immune problems, peripheral arterial disease, or surgical hardware in affected area

Is the itching severe?

Severe means that you are scratching so hard that your skin is cut or bleeding.

Has the itching interfered with sleeping or normal activities for more than 2 days?

Yes

Itching has disrupted sleep or normal activities for more than 2 days

No

Itching has disrupted sleep or normal activities for more than 2 days

Could you be having an allergic reaction to a medicine or a vaccine?

Almost any medicine can cause an allergic reaction. Think about whether the problem started soon after you began using a new medicine or a higher dose of a medicine. Or did it start after you got a shot or vaccine?

Yes

Medicine or vaccine may be causing allergic reaction

No

Medicine or vaccine may be causing allergic reaction

Have your symptoms lasted longer than 2 weeks?

Yes

Symptoms for more than 2 weeks

No

Symptoms for more than 2 weeks

Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:

  • Your age. Babies and older adults tend to get sicker quicker.
  • Your overall health. If you have a condition such as diabetes, HIV, cancer, or heart disease, you may need to pay closer attention to certain symptoms and seek care sooner.
  • Medicines you take. Certain medicines and natural health products can cause symptoms or make them worse.
  • Recent health events, such as surgery or injury. These kinds of events can cause symptoms afterwards or make them more serious.
  • Your health habits and lifestyle, such as eating and exercise habits, smoking, alcohol or drug use, sexual history, and travel.

Try Home Treatment

You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.

  • Try home treatment to relieve the symptoms.
  • Call your doctor if symptoms get worse or you have any concerns (for example, if symptoms are not getting better as you would expect). You may need care sooner.

Symptoms of infection may include:

  • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in or around the area.
  • Red streaks leading from the area.
  • Pus draining from the area.
  • A fever.

Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can start within minutes of eating or being exposed to an allergen. While symptoms usually occur within 2 hours, in rare cases the time frame can vary up to several hours after exposure. Do not ignore early symptoms. When a reaction begins, it is important to respond right away.

Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can vary from person to person. The same person can have different symptoms each time they have a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include any of the following:

    • Skin: hives, swelling (face, lips, tongue), itching, warmth, redness
    • Respiratory (breathing): coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain or tightness, throat tightness, hoarse voice, nasal congestion or hay fever-like symptoms (runny, itchy nose and watery eyes, sneezing), trouble swallowing
    • Gastrointestinal (stomach): nausea, pain or cramps, vomiting, diarrhea
    • Cardiovascular (heart): paler than normal skin colour/blue colour, weak pulse, passing out, dizziness or lightheadedness, shock
    • Other: anxiety, sense of doom (the feeling that something bad is about to happen), headache, uterine cramps, metallic taste

A severe reaction can take place without hives, so make sure to look out for all of the signs of an allergic reaction.

Symptoms of difficulty breathing can range from mild to severe. For example:

  • You may feel a little out of breath but still be able to talk (mild difficulty breathing), or you may be so out of breath that you cannot talk at all (severe difficulty breathing).
  • It may be getting hard to breathe with activity (mild difficulty breathing), or you may have to work very hard to breathe even when you’re at rest (severe difficulty breathing).

Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system’s ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in adults are:

  • Diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and HIV/AIDS.
  • Long-term alcohol and drug problems.
  • Steroid medicines, which may be used to treat a variety of conditions.
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy for cancer.
  • Other medicines used to treat autoimmune disease.
  • Medicines taken after organ transplant.
  • Not having a spleen.

Shock is a life-threatening condition that may quickly occur after a sudden illness or injury.

Adults and older children often have several symptoms of shock. These include:

  • Passing out (losing consciousness).
  • Feeling very dizzy or light-headed, like you may pass out.
  • Feeling very weak or having trouble standing.
  • Not feeling alert or able to think clearly. You may be confused, restless, fearful, or unable to respond to questions.

Shock is a life-threatening condition that may occur quickly after a sudden illness or injury.

Babies and young children often have several symptoms of shock. These include:

  • Passing out (losing consciousness).
  • Being very sleepy or hard to wake up.
  • Not responding when being touched or talked to.
  • Breathing much faster than usual.
  • Acting confused. The child may not know where he or she is.

Make an Appointment

Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.

  • Make an appointment to see your doctor in the next 1 to 2 weeks.
  • If appropriate, try home treatment while you are waiting for the appointment.
  • If symptoms get worse or you have any concerns, call your doctor. You may need care sooner.

Seek Care Today

Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.

  • Call your doctor today to discuss the symptoms and arrange for care.
  • If you cannot reach your doctor or you don’t have one, seek care today.
  • If it is evening, watch the symptoms and seek care in the morning.
  • If the symptoms get worse, seek care sooner.

Seek Care Now

Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.

  • Call your doctor now to discuss the symptoms and arrange for care.
  • If you cannot reach your doctor or you don’t have one, seek care in the next hour.
  • You do not need to call an ambulance unless:
    • You cannot travel safely either by driving yourself or by having someone else drive you.
    • You are in an area where heavy traffic or other problems may slow you down.

Call 911 Now

Based on your answers, you need emergency care.

Call 911 or other emergency services now.

If you have an epinephrine shot, use it while you wait for help to arrive. Follow the directions on the label about how to give the shot.

Sometimes people don’t want to call 911. They may think that their symptoms aren’t serious or that they can just get someone else to drive them. But based on your answers, the safest and quickest way for you to get the care you need is to call 911 for medical transport to the hospital.

Seek Care Now

Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.

  • Call your doctor now to discuss the symptoms and arrange for care.
  • If you cannot reach your doctor or you don’t have one, go to the emergency room now. You may have a reaction after the epinephrine wears off.
  • You do not need to call an ambulance unless:
    • You cannot travel safely either by driving yourself or by having someone else drive you.
    • You are in an area where heavy traffic or other problems may slow you down.

Allergy Symptoms | AAFA.org

What Are the Symptoms of an Allergy?

An allergy occurs when the body’s immune system sees a substance as harmful and overreacts to it. The symptoms that result are an allergic reaction. The substances that cause allergic reactions are allergens. Allergens can get into your body many ways to cause an allergic reaction.

  • You can inhale allergens into your nose and your lungs. Many are small enough to float through the air. Examples are pollen, house dust, mold spores, cat and dog dander and latex dust. 
  • You can ingest allergens by mouth. This includes food and medicines you eat or swallow.
  • Your body can have allergens injected into it. This includes medicine given by needle and venom from insect stings and bites. 
  • Your skin can absorb allergens. Plants such as poison ivy, sumac and oak can cause reactions when touched. Latex, metals, and ingredients in beauty care and household products are other examples.

SYMPTOMS OF AN ALLERGIC REACTION

The severity of symptoms during an allergic reaction can vary widely. Some of the symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Itchy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Rashes
  • Hives (a rash with raised red patches)
  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Tongue swelling
  • Cough
  • Throat closing
  • Wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe)
  • Chest tightness and losing your breath
  • Feeling faint, light-headed or “blacking out”
  • A sense of “impending doom”

Some of these symptoms can be sign of a life-threatening allergic reaction.

 

 

Anaphylaxis (anna-fih-LACK-sis) is a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. It happens fast and may cause death. Symptoms usually involve more than one part of the body, such as the skin or mouth, the lungs, the heart and the gut. Learn more about anaphylaxis.

Eye allergies are common. Eye allergies are a reaction to indoor and outdoor allergens that get into your eyes.The tissue that lines the inside of the eyelid and outside of the eyeball becomes inflamed and swollen and leads to itching, redness, tearing and irritation of the eyes.

Skin allergies occur when your skin comes in contact with an allergen that your skin is sensitive or allergic to. Also, allergies to other things, like food you eat or proteins you inhale or touch, may cause symptoms to appear on your skin. The allergic reaction usually appears within 48 hours after the initial exposure to the allergen. Symptoms often include the following: redness, swelling, blistering, itching, hives and rashes. The allergen doesn’t have to be new to you. It can be something you’ve been using or eating for many years. Common skin allergies include allergic contact dermatitis, eczema, chronic urticaria and angioedema.

The word rhinitis means “inflammation of the nose.” When the nose becomes irritated by allergens or irritants, it may produce more and thicker mucus than usual. This drainage can irritate the back of the throat and cause coughing. Allergic reactions can also cause congestion, itchy nose or throat, sneezing, a runny nose and itchy, watery eyes.

Sinusitis is an infection or inflammation of the sinuses. A sinus is a hollow space. There are many sinuses in the body, including four pairs inside the skull. They serve to lighten the skull and give resonance to the voice. These sinuses are lined with the same kind of tissue that lines the inside of the nose. The same things that can cause swelling in the nose – such as allergies or infection – can also affect the sinuses. When the tissue inside the sinuses becomes inflamed, mucus discharge is increased. Over time, air trapped inside the swollen sinuses can create painful pressure inside the head. This is a sinus headache.

Medical Review November 2015.

 

What is allergy? Types, Causes, Symptoms, Treatments @DocOnline