The thing about allergic reactions is that most of their symptoms are similar to other health conditions. That’s why it’s important to know whether what you’re experiencing is merely a reaction to an allergen or if it’s indicative of a more serious health problem. So, if you’re unsure, here are six common symptoms of allergic reactions and how they manifest:
1. Skin Flare-ups
An allergic reaction could come in the form of visual symptoms, as in those that you can notice on your skin. Flare-ups caused by an allergic reaction can be classified as hives or urticaria and even eczema depending on the gravity and appearance of rashes on your skin. Here’s how they differ:
- Hives or Urticaria — if you see any raised, red patches of skin that weren’t there before, it’s likely that you’re developing hives because your body’s reacting to the allergens that it was exposed to. The red spots can be itchy, but sometimes, they can also leave a stinging feeling on your skin.
- Eczema — unlike hives, allergic eczema is considered a delayed allergy because the symptom doesn’t appear for 24 to 48 hours after you’ve directly been in contact with an allergen. The inflammations can also be itchy, appear as red bumps, and be painful when touched.
2. Diarrhea or Constipation
There are plenty of reasons you’re getting diarrhea or constipation because it’s a symptom of many health conditions. It could be because you ate something spoiled or because you’ve ingested water contaminated with bacteria. And because it’s common in both adults and children, it might be difficult to identify that an allergic reaction causes it.
That’s why it might be best to get tested at a food allergy clinic if you suspect that an allergen causes your diarrhea or constipation. It’s better to be sure than to leave anything up to chance, especially because you can’t always guarantee that your allergic reactions in the future won’t become severe.
Usually, when there’s diarrhea or constipation due to an allergic reaction, there’s also vomiting involved. But they don’t always happen together. If you’re experiencing both of these symptoms simultaneously, it would be best if you could focus on re-hydrating yourself and making sure that your food is prepared properly.
It might be best if you can stay at home when you’re feeling under the weather like this, especially because getting diarrhea and vomiting can be very debilitating. But if a stomach bug isn’t the culprit for your symptoms, then you have to ensure that you’ve taken the appropriate treatment for your allergies.
4. Respiratory Problems
Allergic reactions often cause respiratory problems in the form of wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, or even dry cough. This is because the allergen you’ve been exposed to might be causing your throat to swell, making it difficult to breathe normally. Plus, it can also trigger consecutive sneezing and a runny nose.
So, if you’re having trouble breathing, have begun wheezing, or are feeling a tightness in your chest, don’t hesitate to take an antihistamine to counter the symptoms. However, if you’re still having respiratory issues afterward, call your doctor immediately because you may be experiencing something more serious than an allergic reaction.
Much like skin flare-ups, it’s also possible to experience swelling underneath your skin because of an allergic reaction. This is also called angioedema, and it can affect your hands, feet, lips, tongue, the area around the eyes, or even your genitals during an allergic reaction. It can also happen alongside hives.
When you’re experiencing mild swelling, the best and easiest solution would be to take an antihistamine to reduce the inflammation. You won’t have to rush to the emergency room for mild swelling if you can still treat it at home. However, if the swelling occurs with other symptoms that make it hard for you to breathe or see clearly, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention.
Among the common symptoms of allergic reactions is anaphylaxis, which is considered the most severe one because it can be life-threatening. The anaphylaxis can also lead to an anaphylactic shock. When this happens, the allergen can cause swelling in the throat and mouth, making it difficult to breathe.
It can also make you lightheaded because you won’t get enough oxygen in your brain, and it can cause you to collapse or lose consciousness in the process. Anaphylaxis is considered a medical emergency, so you should never hesitate to rush to the emergency room or call 911 when this happens because it’s literally a life or death situation.
Allergic reactions are different for everyone. Sometimes, it can be mild enough to be treated at home, but the symptoms can be life-threatening on rare occasions. That’s why you shouldn’t leave any symptoms unaddressed because your life—or other people’s lives—depends on your responsiveness.