Symptoms of allergy: recognizing the signs of an immune system response

Allergies are an increasingly common health concern affecting millions worldwide.

They occur when the immune system reacts to a harmless substance as if it were a threat, triggering a range of symptoms. Recognizing these symptoms is crucial for effective management and treatment of allergies.
Symptoms of allergy: recognizing the signs of an immune system response

Common symptoms

Allergic reactions can manifest in various ways depending on the allergen and individual sensitivity. Some of the most common symptoms include:

Nasal symptoms

Allergic rhinitis, commonly known as hay fever, often presents with symptoms such as:

Runny or stuffy nose
Itchy nose and throat
Watery eyes

These symptoms are typically triggered by allergens like pollen, dust mites, or pet dander.

Respiratory symptoms

In individuals with respiratory allergies, exposure to allergens can lead to:

Shortness of breath
Chest tightness

These symptoms are characteristic of conditions like asthma or allergic bronchitis.

Skin symptoms

Skin allergies can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
Itchy, red, or inflamed skin

Hives (urticaria)
Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
Swelling (angioedema)

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Contact with allergens such as certain foods, plants, or chemicals can trigger these reactions.

Gastrointestinal symptoms

Food allergies commonly affect the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in:

Abdominal pain or cramping

These symptoms typically occur shortly after ingesting the allergenic food.


In severe cases, an allergic reaction can progress rapidly and lead to anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition characterized by:

Difficulty breathing
Swelling of the face, throat, or tongue
Rapid heartbeat

Drop in blood pressure
Loss of consciousness

Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention and administration of epinephrine.

Recognizing the symptoms of allergies is essential for timely intervention and management. If you or someone you know experiences any of these symptoms after exposure to a known allergen, it’s important to seek medical advice promptly. Allergies can significantly impact quality of life, but with proper diagnosis and treatment, individuals can effectively manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives.