It’s what happens when your immune system reacts to something that’s usually harmless. Those triggers, which doctors call “allergens,” can include pollen, mold, and animal dander, certain foods, or things that irritate your skin.
Allergies are very common. At least 1 in 5 Americans has one.
It starts when you come into contact with a trigger that you inhale, swallow, or get on your skin.
Your symptoms depend on how you’re exposed — through the air, your skin, food, or through an insect sting.
If you’ve got a nasal allergy (one that’s triggered by something you inhale), common symptoms include:
Common symptoms of a skin allergy include rashes and hives (a rash with raised red patches).
Symptoms can range from mild to severe. Most go away shortly after the exposure stops.
Mild ones may be almost unnoticeable. You might just feel a little “off.”
Moderate symptoms can make you feel ill, as if you’ve got a cold or even the flu.
Severe allergic reactions are extreme.
The most severe allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. It affects your whole body. Symptoms can include:
Anaphylaxis is life-threatening, so call 911 right away. If you have an epinephrine auto-injector, use it and repeat after 5 to 15 minutes if your symptoms haven’t improved. You’ll still need medical care right after you give yourself the shots, even if your symptoms seem to stop, because a delayed reaction could still happen.