What You Need to Know About Allergy & What You Should Do Next

Is it just a cold/upset stomach/rash or is there something I might be allergic to? That’s the big question, right? About 50 million Americans suffer from one or more allergies, and 90,000 of them end up in the emergency room with anaphylaxis. If this isn’t shocking enough: allergic conditions are one of the most common health problems in children each year – approximately 40% of the children in our country suffer from some type of allergy. Knowing how to recognize an allergic reaction in yourself or those around you and what to do about it is incredibly important.

Woman with allergy from pollen, cat fur, citrus, peanuts or berry. Runny nose and watery eyes. Seasonal disease. Causes of allergy. Illness with cough, cold and sneeze symptoms. Vector illustration

Types of Allergies & How Common they Are

Allergic reactions happen when the immune system overprotects the body against substances. These substances are called allergens. When someone is having an allergic reaction to an allergen the immune system releases antibodies that send the message “Get rid of that substance!” to the cells. The cells release histamine, which causes different reactions in your body – like releasing allergy symptoms. You can be allergic to almost everything, there are rare cases of people allergic to sunlight or water (including their own sweat and saliva). The most common types of allergies include:

  • Food allergies, like peanut, seafood, or lactose
  • Skin allergies, poison ivy/oak or hives
  • Indoor allergies, like animal dander or dust mites
  • Outdoor allergies, like hay fever or mold spores
  • Drug allergies, like penicillin or morphine
  • Latex allergies
  • Insect allergies, like bee stings or spider bites

When someone suffers from an indoor or outdoor allergy, they often suffer from multiple allergies. For example hay fever and animal dandruff. You can come in contact with allergens, via the mouth, skin, eyes, nose, or stomach. The most common allergies in the United States are hay fever (8%) and food allergies (10.8%). All allergies cause different reactions.

Most people experience mild to moderate allergy symptoms, but there are allergy types that can cause serious symptoms. People can be so allergic to an allergen that they go into shock. This is called anaphylaxis. Symptoms of an anaphylaxis include shock, loss of consciousness, low blood pressure, shortness of breath, skin rashes, weak pulse, and nausea & vomiting. Anaphylaxis is more common in the following types of allergies: food allergies, insect sting allergies and drug allergies.

Allergy symptoms concept. Vector of a sick sneezing man with cough, rash, runny nose, sore eyes

Allergy Symptoms

Fortunately, only a small proportion of patients have such severe symptoms. Symptoms can vary by type of allergy, as well as in intensity. Symptoms per type of allergy may include:

  • Food allergies: tingling in the mouth, swelling of the mouth, tongue, face or throat and hives
  • Skin allergies: itchy and/or red skin, and flakes or peels
  • Indoor allergies: sneezing, itching nose/eyes, runny/stuffy nose, watery, red and/or swollen eyes
  • Outdoor allergies: sneezing, itching nose/eyes, runny/stuffy nose, watery, red and/or swollen eyes.
  • Drug allergies: hives, itchy skin, rash, facial swelling, and wheezing
  • Latex allergies: itchy and/or red skin
  • Insect allergies: large swelling around the sting/bite, itching body, hives, cough, chest tightness, wheezing, or shortness of breath

Allergy Treatment Options

When you suspect you’re suffering from an allergy, make sure to contact your professional healthcare provider. He or she will give you an allergy test and see if your suspicions are right. After making the right diagnosing, he or she will set up a treatment plan. Treatment options include:

  • Antihistamines
  • Decongestants
  • Nasal sprays, like topical nasal steroids or topical nasal antihistamines
  • Asthma medications, (inhaled) bronchodilators, or inhaled steroids.
  • Immunotherapy
  • Saline Irrigation
  • EpiPen

Contact 911 or seek medical help immediately if you suspect you or someone else is getting an anaphylaxis. In case you – or someone else – carry a EpiPen, give the shot as soon as possible. The sooner someone gets medical attention, the less damage is done. Make sure to contact your professional healthcare provider after administering the shot.

Getting the right diagnosis is extremely important because that’s the only way to get proper help. Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for most allergies, but with the right treatment, symptoms are manageable. The above-mentioned treatment options are the most common. It’s important to find a treatment that suits you and manages your symptoms. Also, make sure you are adequately informed, so you know what to expect. We want to help you with your search to make life a little easier. Start here: