Allergies: Allergy Symptoms

An allergy is the body’s reaction to what are usually harmless substances. The body’s reaction to allergies can range significantly, from mild to life-threatening reactions. There are several treatments for allergies and allergic reactions, such as asthma medicines, antihistamines, nasal steroids, some over-the-counter and others prescription only.

What are Allergies?

An allergy is the body’s reaction to a foreign protein that is harmless to most people and causes the immune system to overreact when the foreign protein enters the body. An allergic reaction is the body’s response and develops from the creation of immunoglobulin that the immune system makes. These antibodies find the allergens in your body and help remove them by taking them to the allergy cell which makes it release histamine, and the histamine is what causes the allergic reaction.

Common Causes of Allergic Reactions

There are many common allergies, from food to materials in products and insects to animals:

Food Allergies

Symptoms of food allergies include:

  • nausea and vomiting
  • hives
  • swelling around the mouth, in the throat, tongue, and face
  • itching all over the body or localized to one part

Common food allergies include:

  • milk
  • eggs
  • soy
  • wheat
  • peanuts
  • tree nuts
  • shellfish


Prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications can cause an allergic reaction as well. Common medications include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Insulin
  • Chemotherapy

Symptoms of these allergies include:

  • rash
  • hives
  • itching
  • shortness of breath
  • Swelling

Venom from Insects

Stinging insects inject venom which can cause an allergic reaction, while it’s true that insects like bees affect everyone to a degree, an allergy to the venom can be life-threatening rather than only painful. Common insect allergies include:

  • Bees
  • Fire ants
  • Hornets
  • Wasps
  • Yellow jackets

Common symptoms that are consistent with anaphylaxis include:

  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling in the face, mouth, or throat
  • Wheezing
  • Rapid pulse
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Drop in blood pressure


A latex allergy typically develops after repeated contact with natural rubber latex. Common products with natural rubber latex include:

  • condoms
  • balloons
  • rubber gloves
  • bandages
  • rubber balls

Symptoms of a reaction to a latex allergy include:

  • hives
  • runny nose
  • itchy nose
  • difficulty breathing
  • skin irritation


Inhalants are airborne substances that are breathed in, the symptoms include:

  • stuffy nose
  • itchy nose
  • itchy eyes
  • runny nose
  • watery eyes
  • sneezing

Perennial Allergens

These are allergens that can cause a reaction year-round rather than seasonally, such as:

  • Pet dander, pet urine, and pet saliva
  • Dust mites
  • Cockroaches
  • Molds

Allergy Treatments & Diagnosis

To diagnose an allergy, a person must see an allergist. An allergist is a doctor who specializes in allergies and can administer allergy tests. These tests are usually performed via a skin prick test or blood tests. It’s important to not wait for symptoms to disappear, if they last for a week or two and come back around the same times of year, make an appointment for an allergy test.

Treatment for allergens can be as simple as avoidance, but over-the-counter and prescription allergy medications provide a quality treatment for allergy management, such as:

  • Antihistamines
  • Nasal sprays
  • Decongestants
  • Asthma medications
  • Immunotherapy
  • Nasal saline irrigation