Take control of your allergies. Understand and manage your symptoms.


Allergy signs and treatments

Watery eyes, itchiness, runny nose. Sound familiar? If it does, you might have allergies.

An allergic reaction is when your immune system has a bad response to something. Normally your immune system protects your body from getting sick because of things like bacteria and viruses. It also helps protect you against allergens, the things that set off an allergic reaction. When it doesn’t do that job, it’s like having a very sensitive alarm system — it alerts your body to things that really shouldn’t cause a reaction.

What causes allergies?

A lot of people have allergies. Your genes and the environment can play a role in that. If both of your parents have allergies, you’ll probably have allergies. But you may not be allergic to the same things or have the same reactions.

Common allergy triggers are:

  • Pollen

  • Mold

  • Pet dander

  • Dust

  • Food

  • Medicines

  • Insect bites

  • Jewelry

  • Makeup

  • Spices

Signs

Allergy symptoms can be different from one person to the next. But here are some common signs:

  • Breathing problems or wheezing

  • Burning, tearing, itchy, red or swollen eyes

  • Coughing

  • Diarrhea, stomach cramps or throwing up

  • Headache

  • Hives or skin rash

  • Itchy nose, mouth, throat, skin or other part of the body

  • Runny nose

What can you do?

If you think you have an allergy, tell your doctor. Here are some ways to test for an allergy:

  • Skin test

  • Blood test or complete blood count

  • Use or elimination tests: using certain things to see if you get worse or avoiding certain things to see if you get better

The best way to reduce your symptoms is to try to avoid the things that cause your allergies. Sometimes, that’s not so easy to do. It might be easy to stay away from certain foods or medicines. But if your allergy trigger comes from the air around you, it can be hard to avoid.

Allergies can’t be cured, but there are ways to treat and relieve your symptoms. Treatment will depend on the kind of allergy you have and how bad it is. Medicines or allergy shots may help. But you may need to get shots for years before they work. And they don’t always work for everyone.

Severe allergic reactions, called anaphylaxis, need to be treated with a medicine called epinephrine. It can save a person’s life if it’s taken immediately after a severe allergic reaction.

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