Asthma is a disease that affects the airways and the lungs, making them inflamed and swollen. The inflammation makes airways more likely to be bothered by allergies or things such as smoke, stereo, exercise or cold air. Airway muscle spasms block the flow of air to the lungs causing symptoms that may include difficulty breathing, a tight feeling in the chest, coughing and wheezing. Sometimes the only symptom is a chronic cough, especially at night, after exercise or when laughing. Asthma may have only mild symptoms, or it can be life threatening when attacks stop breathing all together.
Hay Fever or Sinus Allergy
Allergic Rhinitis is a general term used to describe allergic reactions that take place in the nose and nasal passages. Symptoms may include sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose and itching of the nose, the eyes, or the roof of the mouth.When triggered by pollens or outdoor molds - especially during the spring, summer or fall - the condition is often called "hay fever," or seasonal allergy. When the problem is caused by exposure to dust, mites, pets, indoor molds or other allergies at home, school or work, it is called perennial allergic rhinitis.
Allergic reactions in the eyes, called eye allergies or allergic conjunctivitis, affect millions of Americans. They are often caused by the same allergens that cause allergic rhinitis and result in many of the same symptoms such as sneezing, sniffling and a stuffy nose. While many people treat their nasal allergy symptoms, they often ignore eye symptoms which can be treated effectively with medication or immunotherapy.
The most serious reaction to an insect sting is an allergic one. The condition requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms of allergic reaction may include one or more of the following:
An even more severe allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis, can occur within minutes after the sting and may be life-threatening. Symptoms may include:
People who have experienced an allergic reaction to an insect sting have a 60 percent chance of a similar reaction if stung again.
Contact dermatitis, eczema and hives are skin reactions that can be caused by allergens and other irritants. Sometimes the reaction can happen quickly, other reactions may take hours or days, as in poison ivy. Common allergens can be medicines, insect stings, foods, animals and chemicals used at home and work. Skin allergies may be worse under stress.
An allergic reaction to food, often called food allergies, can cause mild to serious symptoms such as vomiting or nausea, stomach cramps, indigestion, diarrhea, hives or other skin rashes, headaches, asthma, or stuffy nose, sneezing and runny nose. In extreme cases food allergy can trigger a severe and life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis. Some mild symptoms may actually be caused by a food sensitivity rather than an allergic reaction. An allergist can help determine if it is a true allergic reaction. Shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts are the most common food allergies in adults. Milk, eggs, soy, wheat, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts are the most common food allergies in children.
Anaphylaxis is a rare allergic reaction that affects many parts of the body at the same time. If not treated quickly, it can be fatal. The trigger may be an insect sting, a food (such as peanuts), the latex in rubber products or a medication. The most dangerous symptoms of anaphylaxis affect the respiratory system (breathing) or cardiovascular system (heart and blood pressure).
Symptoms can include some or all of the following:
Frequently these symptoms start suddenly without warning and rapidly get worse. At the first sign of anaphylaxis, a patient should get help immediately, call 911 or go to the closest emergency room. An allergist can help determine the triggers of anaphylaxis.
Sinus infections, also called sinusitis, are common in people, with allergies that affect the nose such as allergic rhinitis. The constant stuffy and runny nose can inflame the nasal passages and make them swell. Symptoms include a runny nose with a thick discharge, cough and occasionally pain in the forehead, around and in between the eyes, in the upper jaw, cheeks and teeth. In some cases, sinusitis can be chronic, causing several infections a year. People with asthma are more likely to have chronic sinus infections which can complicate their disease and make their symptoms more severe.