Allergy Symptoms

You may not be aware that you have an allergy. Unless the symptoms come on only in specific situations - for example, when you visit a friend who owns a cat - you may not realize that the sniffles you seem to always have or the cold that lasted all winter were actually allergic symptoms.

Allergic symptoms come in many forms, but they all occur for the same reason. When you come into contact with an allergen (an allergy-prompting substance), your immune system produces antibodies to fight off what it mistakenly sees as a harmful invader. This can trigger symptoms in many different parts of your body, depending on where the reaction occurs. Here are some of the most common types.

Reactions in the Nose, Throat, and Eyes
Pollen, mold, dust or dander from household pets - through your mouth or nose, you may develop allergic rhinitis. If the reaction is seasonal and caused by plant pollens or molds, some people call it "hay fever." Sometimes allergic rhinitis can be triggered by eating food. This group of symptoms includes sneezing, runny or clogged nose, congestion and excess mucus, coughing and postnasal drip, watery, itchy eyes or conjunctivitis (an inflammation of the membrane that lines the eyelids, causing red, swollen eyes and crusting on the eyelids), scratchiness or burning in the throat or the roof of the mouth, itchy ears and allergic "shiners," dark circles under the eyes caused by increased blood flow near the sinuses.

Skin Reactions
Allergies can produce several skin conditions. The most frequent causes of these rashes are pollen, medications, foods and animals. Skin reactions may develop within minutes of exposure, or they may take hours or even days. The most common rashes are as follows:

Contact dermatitis. This is an itchy rash that breaks out where a chemical or other allergen has touched your skin. For example, many people react to poison ivy; others are sensitive to cleaning fluids or detergents. When the skin comes in contact with the allergic substance, the reaction is often not immediate; it usually starts after one to three days. The rash often lasts a week or longer. The skin becomes red, itchy and inflamed, often with blisters.

Hives. These are itchy welts that may appear on any part of your body. They start minutes to hours after an exposure and may last a day or two. They can occur without an allergen touching your skin. For example, you may develop hives after eating certain foods or taking certain medicines. They may not have an obvious etiology and may require further evaluation by an allergist.

Eczema (atopic dermatitis). This rash consists of patches of red, itchy, crusty or scaly skin, often on the elbows, knees, and in skin folds. It can also be related to asthma.

If you have any further questions please contact our hotline:

Ellen Epstein, M.D. FAAAAI, FACAAI
Adult and Pediatric Allergy
165 N. Village Ave.-Suite 141
Rockville Centre, NY 11570
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Dr. Ellen Epstein is a Board Certified Adult and Pediatric Allergist in practice since 1986. Dr. Epstein earned her M.D. degree from New York University School of Medicine. She teaches at and is on the staff of Long Island Jewish Medical Center, Franklin Hospital Medical Center and South Nassau Communities Hospital. Dr. Epstein and her staff provide expert professional treatment in a warm and caring atmosphere.


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