Allergy symptoms are a result of a person’s immune system overreacting to something that is harmless to most people but sparks a reaction in people sensitive to the trigger.
Some symptoms of allergic reactions, such as sneezing, are widely known. But people may be surprised to discover some of the other common allergy symptoms. A host of physical symptoms are indicative of allergic reactions, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
• Wheezing, shortness of breath: The ACAAI says that wheezing or shortness of breath are telltale signs of asthma, but notes that such symptoms also may be indicative of an allergic reaction.
The ACAAI recommends people see an allergist if they develop unexplained wheezing that keeps returning or if the wheezing occurs alongside symptoms like rapid breathing or difficulty taking in air. Wheezing that appears after a person is stung by an insect, takes a medication or eats something he or she is allergic to is symptomatic of an allergic reaction and requires immediate medical attention.
• Cough: The appearance of a dry, persistent cough may indicate an allergy. Coughs are often a byproduct of a cold or flu, but such coughs tend to taper off after a few days. Chronic dry coughs that linger for more than three weeks may indicate the presence of an allergy. Allergy-related coughs may be more prevalent during certain times of year or in certain environments. The ACAAI notes that chronic dry cough has been linked to allergies such as hay fever and may indicate an allergy to pet dander, dust, pollen, or mold.
• Headache: Though few people associate headaches with allergies, some headaches can be allergy-related. According to the ACAAI, sinus headaches and migraines have been linked to allergies. Sinus headaches may be characterized by localized pain over the sinus area and/or pain in the face that may or may not be accompanied by a headache. A throbbing pain on one side of the head indicates a migraine, the symptoms of which may worsen when exposed to light. Among the more painful allergy symptoms, headaches should be discussed with an allergist.
• Nausea and vomiting: Nausea and vomiting may be a byproduct of food allergies. Seasonal allergies rarely, if ever, lead to nausea or vomiting. However, when a person eats a food he or she is allergic to, the immune system reacts to this allergy in much the same way it does to allergies like hay fever, releasing a chemical called histamine. When a person is dealing with seasonal allergies, the histamine his or her body releases can cause sneezing, runny nose or other symptoms commonly associated with such allergies. But when histamine is released to combat food allergies, it can cause nausea and vomiting.
Allergies affect people in every corner of the globe. Recognizing symptoms of allergies can help people combat them more effectively.