Allergy Signs & Symptoms

More than half of Americans suffer from allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Allergies occur when a person’s immune system doesn’t recognize a particular substance such as dust, pollen or pet dander. The body releases IgE antibodies to ward off potential intruders causing common allergic reactions in the body. These antibodies, also referred to as histamines, are intended to protect the body from sickness and disease but also cause the common signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Hay Fever

According to the Mayo Clinic, hay fever is one of the most common allergic reactions to seasonal, outdoor allergies. Hay fever feels much like a head cold but is caused by the releasing of histamine in the body. Hay fever includes head congestion, pain, brain fog, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes and other upper-respiratory reactions. Hay fever can also lead to fatigue, sleepiness and irritability. Hay fever is commonly treated by avoiding allergens causing the reaction and taking an over-the-counter antihistamine.

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis (eczema) is another common sign and symptom of an allergic reaction. Eczema is an inflation of the skin that is highly itchy developing into sores and abrasions if not treated. The Mayo Clinic cites the most common symptoms of atopic dermatitis as small bumps, extreme itch, crusted-over leaky skin bumps and sensitive skin. Most people develop eczema before the age of 5 and grow out of it in adulthood. Eczema is treated by taking a daily oral antihistamine and topical steroid lotion.


Asthma induced allergies are commonly caused by seasonal allergies, allergic reactions to insect stings and food allergies. Asthma is the tightening of the lungs that causes a person to lose the ability to breathe freely and normal. It is commonly accompanied by wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain, excessive coughing and hyperventilation. Asthmatic allergic reactions call for specific medications to treat the symptom. See a doctor to be assessed and prescribed the proper medication.


Anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock is a severe allergic reaction wherein the entire body experiences an allergic reaction, according the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Anaphylaxis can be a life-threatening reaction requiring medical attention immediately. The common signs of anaphylaxis are hives, tightening of the lungs, weakness, wheezing, low blood pressure, arrhythmia and a rapid pulse. The common symptoms are anxiety, confusion, lightheadedness, difficulty breathing and nausea. If you suspect you or someone near you is experiencing anaphylaxis, seek immediate medical attention.

About this Author

Emily DeSerio has been an approved writer with Demand Studios since November 2009. She began her higher level education at the University of South Florida (USF) with a B.A. in English and went on to complete a Master of Social Work degree at USF as well. DeSerio works in the mental health field as a clinical social worker.