What Is an Allergic Reaction?
It’s your immune system’s job to protect you from foreign substances that can make you ill. It does this by creating antibodies.
Sometimes your immune system identifies foreign bodies as harmful, even though they aren’t. Common allergens include bee venom, pollen, and pet dander. Common food allergens include peanuts, milk, wheat products, shellfish, and strawberries.
This overreaction can cause mild symptoms like skin irritation, watery eyes, or sneezing. It can also cause anaphylaxis, a severe reaction that can lead to respiratory failure and cardiac arrest.
Identifying an Allergic Reaction
Symptoms depend on the allergy and can vary from person to person. Allergic reactions can cause hives, rashes, and other skin irritations. Some food allergies can cause diarrhea, bloating, and other digestive issues. Other signs of allergy include swelling, congestion, and runny eyes and nose.
The most serious allergic reactions cause anaphylaxis. This is a medical emergency. Signs include lightheadedness, nausea, and weak pulse. Swelling of the airways can interfere with breathing. Untreated anaphylaxis can lead to loss of consciousness, respiratory distress, and cardiac arrest.
Treating Minor Symptoms
Minor allergic reactions can be safely treated at home. Over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants can ease congestion and breathing problems. These medications are generally available as tablets, eye drops, and nasal sprays.
Swelling, redness, and itching may be reduced with the use of ice and topical creams that contain corticosteroids. Acetaminophen can lessen pain. If symptoms persist, your doctor can prescribe more powerful medications.