Frustrated that you cannot tell if your sudden symptoms are due to an allergy or something else? Or maybe, your symptoms have been persisting awhile for no clear reason? Sometimes it is hard to tell if you are experiencing an allergy or another condition like a cold or food intolerance.
Most of the time, allergy symptoms are really similar to cold symptoms. To understand the difference between a cold and an allergy, read this informative article. If your symptoms are not cold-like, then they may still be symptoms of an allergy.
Learn more about the causes and symptoms for your allergy and when to seek medical assistance by clicking the relevant section or scrolling down.
What is an allergy? An allergy is the result of your body overreacting to an irritant, or allergen. More specifically, your immune system targets your eyes, skin, sinuses, air pathways, and digestive tract to remove the allergen. This allergic reaction can produce several physical symptoms, ranging from watery eyes to labored breaths.
Common allergies can include certain foods (ex. fish, shellfish, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, and eggs); fine air particles (ex. pollen, mold, dust mites, and pet dander); certain drugs or medications (ex. penicillin, aspirin, and ibuprofen); certain substances when touched (ex. poison ivy, latex and perfumes); and insect stings (ex. bee and wasp).
Your likelihood of developing an allergy increases when you have asthma, possess a genetic predisposition to asthma or allergy, or when you are not exposed to allergens as a child.
Allergic reactions differ for each person. They can be as mild as a slight runny nose or as severe as a life-threatening condition called anaphylaxis. However, it should be noted that having a fever is never an allergy symptom.
The ACAAI states that nausea/vomiting, rashes, coughing, nasal symptoms, headaches, and fatigue are the most common allergy symptoms. Click or scroll below to find more information about each symptom.
When your body consumes an allergen, you are likely to acquire symptoms like nausea and vomiting in your digestive tract, specifically in the areas of the mouth, stomach, and intestines. Since seasonal allergies rarely cause nausea or vomiting, those symptoms are more associated with food allergies.
Common food allergens include: fish, shellfish, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, and eggs.
If your nausea and vomiting are due to food allergies, you may experience other symptoms, such as hives, wheezing, repeated coughing, difficult breathing or swallowing, dizziness, pale or blue skin, weak pulse, and even anaphylaxis.
If your symptoms are not due to food allergies, you may be experiencing another condition, such as food intolerance, food poisoning, eating disorder, motion sickness, digestive tract ulcers, infection, emotional stress, early stages of pregnancy, heart attack, headache, overreaction to medicine or odor, or even concussion to the brain.
What is a rash? It is any abnormal change in color, texture, or appearance of your skin. A rash can take many forms; it can be bumpy, blistered, scaly, swollen, or warm.
The causes of a rash include food allergies to nuts, milk, eggs, shellfish, fish, soy, and others; contact allergies to latex, cosmetics, and others; drug allergies to penicillin, aspirin, ibuprofen, and others; physical factors like the temperature, sunlight, water, and more; insect bites and stings; and viral infections.
If you have an allergic rash, you may be experiencing one of the common cases, contact dermatitis, eczema, or hives.
Contact dermatitis is an allergic reaction of the skin to physical exposure to an allergen. Its common symptoms are redness, itching, swelling, burning, or tenderness through rashes, bumps, or blisters. Related causes for contact dermatitis are substances that you contacted, such as poison ivy, nickel, perfumes, or even sunlight.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, tends to be long-lasting with periodic flare-ups. Its common symptoms are itching; small raised bumps; dry skin; and scaly skin that may be appear in patches. Its common causes include temperature fluctuations, contact with allergens like pet dander, chemicals, and dust mites.
Hives, or urticaria, are sudden, temporary outbreaks of welts and/or bumps on the skin. Typically, an outbreak of hives that last under six weeks is due to an allergic reaction or viral infection. Any causes of an allergic rash can cause an outbreak of hives.
If your rash is not due to an allergy, you may be experiencing one of the following: bug bites or stings, skin infection, fifth disease, lupus, Lyme disease, chickenpox, measles, mono, ringworm, shingles, or staph infection.
Are you coughing up a storm? If chronic dry coughing has bothered you for at least three weeks, then it is probably due to allergies or asthma, a respiratory disease.
While allergies and asthma can arise from common causes, their responses are different. Allergic coughing happens more frequently in certain environments and seasons and happens usually in tandem with other symptoms of allergies like stuffy nose and itchy eyes. In contrast, asthmatic coughing normally happens as an infrequent, sudden attack.
If your chronic coughing is due to allergies, it may be the result of a common allergen like pollen, mold, pet dander, dust mites, cockroaches, and other indoor/outdoor allergens.
If your chronic coughing is not due to allergies, it may be the result of one of the following: asthma, bronchitis, gastroesophageal reflux, post-nasal drip, or smoking. However, if your chronic coughing is not from any of those, it may be due to something more detrimental like blood pressure medicines, infection, cystic fibrosis, laryngopharyngeal reflux, bronchiectasis, sarcoidosis, or lung cancer.
4. Nasal and Sinus Symptoms
When your body encounters an airborne allergen, you are likely to have an allergic reaction in your nose, sinuses, and eyes. Runny nose, congestion, and post-nasal drip are all nasal allergy symptoms of allergic rhinitis, commonly known as “hay fever” or “seasonal allergies.”
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you may also experience itchy eyes, coughing, scratchy throat, stuffy nose, headaches from sinus congestion, and more.
The causes of the nasal symptoms vary for each person. However, there are common causes like pollen, pet dander, mold, dust mites, and cockroaches.
If you do not suffer from seasonal allergies, you may be experiencing one of the following: weather changes, common cold, influenza, sinus infection, overuse of nasal decongestant sprays, nasal polyps, non-allergic rhinitis, deviated septum, pregnancy, hormonal changes, or drug reaction.
To tackle your seasonal allergies with a clear plan, read this article.
Headache is often blamed on consumption of coffee, lack of sleep, or something else. But did you know allergies can cause headaches too?
In fact, any type of allergen can cause headaches, including dust mites, pet dander, mold, and food allergens like shellfish, nuts, milk, and eggs.
If your headache is due to allergies, you will experience a sinus headache, a migraine headache, or both.
A sinus headache results from congested sinuses. The built-up pressure from the congestion produces localized pain near the sinuses, causing the feeling of pain at the cheekbones, nasal bridge, and forehead.
A migraine headache causes a pulsing sensation or throbbing pain usually on one side of the head. Nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity are usual symptoms that accompany a migraine. In addition to allergens, genetics and food intolerances have been correlated with migraine headaches.
If your headache is not due to allergies, other likely causes of your headache can include: alcohol, dehydration, changes in sleeping and/or eating patterns, teeth-grinding, cold, influenza, stress, blood clots, brain tumor, brain concussion, stroke, glaucoma, or carbon monoxide poisoning.
Fatigue, or the feeling of extreme exhaustion, can be easily dismissed as the result of bad weather or sleep. As a result, you feel irritable and muddled when making decisions. What you probably do not expect is that allergies might be the underlying cause of these symptoms.
Allergies can cause an array of symptoms like runny nose and scratchy throat that disrupt sleep and cause subsequent fatigue. This effect may be compounded by drowsiness-inducing over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. Additionally, allergies can naturally produce bodily chemicals that induce drowsiness.
If your fatigue is due to allergies, it may be caused by pervasive allergens like pollen, pet dander, dust mites, cockroaches, and mold that are usually associated with seasonal allergies.
If your fatigue is not due to allergies, it may be caused by another medical problem, such as anxiety, depression, sleeping disorders, thyroid disorders, diabetes, anemia, heart complications, head trauma, lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, or chronic infections.
Seeking Medical Assistance
For all allergy sufferers, seeking medical assistance is the recommended route to fight your allergy symptoms and provide allergy relief in the future.
If you are experiencing severe allergy symptoms and do not have an epinephrine auto-injector, please contact your emergency phone number immediately. If you have not done so already, scheduling an appointment with a board-certified allergist will help you plan for your severe symptoms.
If you are experiencing mild to medium allergy symptoms, scheduling an appointment and conducting different allergy tests with a board-certified allergist will help you identify your existing allergies. The allergist will also provide different options for dealing with your particular allergy in the future.
In the meantime, get immediate allergy relief with over-the-counter FlutiCare® nasal spray. FlutiCare® is the most affordable nasal decongestant spray containing the #1 prescribed, clinically proven ingredient for nasal allergy relief – Fluticasone Propionate. FlutiCare® is the FDA-approved and physician-recommended drug to relieve your allergy symptoms caused by pollen, pet dander, dust, mold, and other indoor/outdoor allergens. Unlike other similar (and familiar) nasal decongestants, FlutiCare® can be purchased directly from the manufacturer with auto-shipping for your convenience and continuous relief.