An allergy is an immune system response to a foreign substance that’s not typically harmful to your body. These foreign substances are called allergens. They can include certain foods, pollen, or pet dander.
Allergies are common. Several treatments can help you avoid your symptoms.
Symptoms of allergies
The symptoms you experience because of allergies are the result of several factors. These include the type of allergy you have and how severe the allergy is.
For food allergies
Food allergies can trigger swelling, hives, nausea, fatigue, and more. It may take a while for a person to realize that they have a food allergy. If you have a serious reaction after a meal and you’re not sure why, see a medical professional immediately. They can find the exact cause of your reaction or refer you to a specialist.
For seasonal allergies
Hay fever symptoms can mimic those of a cold. They include congestion, runny nose, and swollen eyes. Most of the time, you can manage these symptoms at home using over-the-counter treatments. See your doctor if your symptoms become unmanageable.
For severe allergies
Severe allergies can cause anaphylaxis. This is a life-threatening emergency that can lead to breathing difficulties, lightheadedness, and loss of consciousness. If you’re experiencing these symptoms after coming in contact with a possible allergen, seek medical help immediately.
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Allergies on skin
Types of skin allergies include:
- Rashes. Areas of skin are irritated, red, or swollen, and can be painful or itchy.
- Eczema. Patches of skin become inflamed and can itch and bleed.
- Contact dermatitis. Red, itchy patches of skin develop almost immediately after contact with an allergen.
- Sore throat. Pharynx or throat is irritated or inflamed.
- Hives. Red, itchy, and raised welts of various sizes and shapes develop on the surface of the skin.
- Swollen eyes. Eyes may be watery or itchy and look “puffy.”
- Itching. There’s irritation or inflammation in the skin.
- Burning. Skin inflammation leads to discomfort and stinging sensations on the skin.
Causes of allergies
Common types of allergens include:
- Animal products. These includepet dander, dust mite waste, and cockroaches.
- Drugs. Penicillin and sulfa drugs are common triggers.
- Foods. Wheat, nuts, milk, shellfish, and egg allergies are common.
- Insect stings. These include bees, wasps, and mosquitoes.
- Mold. Airborne spores from mold can trigger a reaction.
- Plants. Pollens from grass, weeds, and trees, as well as resin from plants such as poison ivy and poison oak, are very common plant allergens.
- Other allergens. Latex, often found in latex gloves and condoms, and metals like nickel are also common allergens.
Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever, are some of the most common allergies. These are caused by pollen released by plants. They cause:
- itchy eyes
- watery eyes
- runny nose
Food allergies are becoming more common. Find out about the most common types of food allergies and the symptoms they cause.
Natural remedies for allergies
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Many natural remedies and supplements are marketed as a treatment and even a way to prevent allergies. Discuss these with your doctor before trying them. Some natural treatments may actually contain other allergens and make your symptoms worse.
For example, some dried teas use flowers and plants that are closely related to plants that might be causing you serious sneezing. The same is true for essential oils. Some people use these oils to relieve common symptoms of allergies, but essential oils still contain ingredients that can cause allergies.