Allergies are a common occurrence, maybe moreso than you realize. They are harmless for most people, but allergies can cause some serious suffering. The symptoms of allergies overlap quite a bit so you cannot say that just because you have a rash you are allergic to a specific item.
Any allergen causes a release of histamine, which in turn creates the symptoms. A person’s body can misread a protein in the allergen as a harmful intruder, and attack it with force, sometimes with extreme force. Histamine is very irritating and causes may different types of reactions including attracting fluid and causing swelling.
Skin reactions of many kinds are a common allergy symptom. It can be something as simple as redness with swelling or as terrible as weeping blisters. Usually a skin allergy will show up within 6 to 24 hours of exposure to the allergic substance. Many times itching is included in the reaction.
A rash can develop where you come in contact with the allergen, or a more general rash can occur, especially with reactions to food or drugs. Many people will notice an immediate onset of itching, mild swelling, and redness of their mouth, lips, and throat when eating the food or taking the drug they are allergic to.
Eczema is usually an itchy, dry, scaling rash that gets worse in dry conditions such as indoors during the winter months. Babies and children are most prone to eczema, though anyone can develop it.
Skin can get cracked and leathery in areas that are in continued contact with metal that you are allergic to. Sweat makes it worse. Nickel is the most common allergen in jewelry.
Insect bites can cause skin reactions, which usually involve pain, mild swelling, and itching. Many insects inject venom or saliva which will prolong the reaction until your body clears the injected material. The proteins in the venom or saliva does what the insect needs done – kill a small insect or allow blood to flow. It is the proteins that cause the reaction.
Allergy testing makes use of skin reactions to allergens. Pricking a little solution of the allergen into the skin can create a hive-like reaction that can show that you have an allergy to a specific substance.
Nasal allergy symptoms
The symptoms of nasal allergies can have various triggers, but the most common are seasonal pollens. Common symptoms include nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy nose, and runny nose. Some people are bothered for months at a time, or even the entire year, depending on what they are allergic to. Allergies to pollen, pet dander (more here), dust mites, and even foods can create nasal allergy symptoms in some people. You might be one.
Many suffer nasal symptoms with seasonal allergies. Spring allergy symptoms can start off the year, then change to summer allergies due to a different allergen (some substance you are allergic to), and finally fall allergy symptoms show up because of a third allergen. There are people who are only comfortable after the first full killing frost and throughout the winter months. As mentioned, nasal allergy symptoms can be brought on by pet dander and dust mites, which are indoors and around year round.
Sometimes those with nasal allergy symptoms also develop postnasal drip, a feeling of “clogged” ears, itchy and watery eyes, itchy ears, cough, and a sore throat. When mucus can’t go out our nose and there is a lot of it being produced, postnasal drip occurs as the mucus goes wherever it can. As the mucus carries the allergens down our throat the allergen can set off a reaction along the way with swelling and irritation. This gives you a sore throat and coughing plus makes the Eustachian tubes (the tubes that run from our ears to the throat) become swollen and blocked so that you get “clogged” ears. The eyes can react with itching and watering to add to the problem. Tears drain into the nose and add to the secretions.
Post nasal drip can cause an upset stomach for some people, but digestive upset is more likely due to food allergies. Reaction can range from an upset stomach to vomiting and diarrhea. The reaction can be very swift such as when you would vomit up a food almost immediately after swallowing it. This can be very helpful, getting the offending substance out of your body as quickly as possible. If your body doesn’t react this way you may develop abdominal cramps and diarrhea a little later.
Food intolerances can present as digestive upset that is not as severe. You may get gassy and bloated with loose stools or diarrhea. Lactose intolerance is one of the most common food intolerances.
Anaphylaxis—the severest allergic reaction
In anaphylaxis the person will have difficulties breathing because of the amount of swelling in the respiratory tract and will have a very low blood pressure. It is a life threatening reaction that requires medical attention. If you notice swelling or tightening of your airway or throat, a rapid pulse, dizziness, or light-headedness you should seek emergency care immediately. With a severe allergy you can react to a very tiny amount of the allergen with a very major reaction. Luckily, anaphylaxis is rare.
It seems that an extension of nasal allergy symptoms can be headaches. They are usually due to the back up of mucus into the sinuses, with pressure building up across the forehead. For some, headaches occur even when their nasal and eye symptoms are minimal. This is likely due to irritation in the nasal passages setting off a reaction.
Sometimes people suffering from allergies notice that they have difficulty tasting and smelling. This can leave them with a poor appetite because they cannot taste the food very well.
Some people have rare atypical reactions to certain foods which are not anything like the typical allergy reaction. These are technically food intolerances, not allergies. It may be possible that children with attention deficit have worse symptoms when eating various foods. The body could retain fluid or develop achy joints because of a food intolerance. With intolerance to food the person may be able to eat a little of the offending food without difficulty, but have a reaction to large amounts. Food intolerances can be much more difficult to determine.
What should you do
Now that you know what allergy symptoms can be, don’t suffer with them. Seek relief!
Sometimes it is plainly evident what you are allergic to. If you are not sure whether your symptoms are due to allergies, then talk with your doctor. You may wish to consult an allergy specialist. They can perform testing to see which substances you are reacting to, then you can create a plan to deal with your allergies. A doctor can also prescribe appropriate medications and control a desensitization plan if that is appropriate.