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Allergy Symptoms: From Mild to Severe

Woman and man both blowing their noses into tissues.


Allergies can be irritating and sometimes, life-threatening. Find out more about your allergy symptoms and learn how you can reduce or avoid certain allergic reactions.   

Allergy Causes 

An allergic reaction occurs when cells in your immune system become hypersensitive to certain substances, often referred to as allergens. Substances that often cause allergies are pollen, dust mites, mold spores, pet dander, food, insect stings, and medicines. Allergic reactions can also occur due to an inherited gene but most of the time, they are acquired from environmental influences. Allergies are incurable; however, they can be managed through prevention and treatment.   

Mild Allergy Symptoms 

Mild allergy symptoms may not be extreme, but they can still cause discomfort to your entire body. Mild symptoms of an allergic reaction include: 

  • Rashes. A rash is a change in the normal appearance or feel of your skin. Rashes may be painful or itchy, and it might make your skin red, bumpy, dry, cracked, blistered, swollen or warm. Common skin rashes related to allergies include eczema, contact dermatitis and hives. 
    • Eczema. This skin rash is also referred to as atopic dermatitis. It typically appears as dry, red, cracking and itchy skin. Medicated creams or ointments are the most typical treatment for eczema.  
    • Contact dermatitis. Contact dermatitis may appear as a rash, blisters, burning or itching. It is a reaction on the skin caused by an irritant or allergen. Treatment for this skin reaction generally include creams, ointment or oral medications.  
    • Hives. The itching, swelling, and redness of hives can last less than six weeks when caused by an allergic reaction. Hives may also appear on different parts of the body but usually last less than a day. Hives can usually be treated with over-the-counter drugs such as antihistamines and corticosteroids.  
  • Runny and itchy nose. A runny or itchy nose can lead to additional irritation from regularly wiping or itching to manage symptoms. Specifically, a runny nose may in turn dry out the insides of your nostrils in addition to the outside from use of tissue paper.  
  • Itchy, watery eyes. Itching or rubbing your eyes may feel good in the moment, but doing it too much may lead to things in your eye or damageConsider rinsing out your eyes with water or wearing sunglasses while outdoors to prevent or reduce the number of allergens within your eyes.  They can also be treated with oral medications, allergy eye-drops, and allergy shots.  
  • Nausea and vomiting. Nausea is an uneasiness in the stomach that often accompanies the urge to vomit, but doesn’t always lead to vomiting. Vomiting is the forcible emptying of stomach contents through the mouth.  

The above list contains some of the more common symptoms of allergies. Depending on the type of allergy, severity and additional factors, you may experience different symptoms. Other mild symptoms of allergies may include fatigue, headaches, and cough.  

Severe Allergy Symptoms 

Severe allergy symptoms are more extreme and can lead to serious conditions. Signs and symptoms of severe allergies include: 

  • Anaphylaxis. This allergic reaction makes your blood pressure drop abruptly and blocks breathing which can cause you to go into shock. If not treated immediately, anaphylaxis can result in serious complications and can even be fatal.  
  • Swelling.  The location of swelling may vary based on the type of allergic reaction occurring. Swelling of the mouth and throat is often caused by food allergies.. It can be irritating and can interfere with your ability to swallow. Hot fluids, such as tea or soup, may help reduce throat irritation. Gargling with warm salt water can also reduce mild swelling and relieve discomfort. Swelling on any location of the body may occur from an insect sting, depending on where the sting occurs. Inflammation or swelling of the lining of the nose may occur from breathing in allergens such as pollen.  
  • Difficulty in breathing. Shortness of breathing requires immediate medical attention.  
  • Feeling faint and light-headed.  
  • Loss of consciousness. drop in blood pressure, causing loss of consciousness may occur as a more serious symptom to allergies. Allergens that may cause this include food, medicines or insects. Fainting also may imply more serious underlying symptoms, such as anaphylaxis.  

Why It Is Important to Differentiate Mild and Severe Allergy Symptoms 

The severity of allergies varies from person to person and can range from minor irritation to life-threatening conditions. It is necessary to distinguish mild from severe allergy symptoms so you know when seeking medical help is necessary. By learning each kind of signs and symptoms, you will be able to identify preventions and treatments, and risk factors and complications.  

Managing Allergies 

Allergies can be extremely uncomfortable. Luckily, there are available preventions and treatments that can help to manage your allergy symptoms. 

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