What are the symptoms of allergies?

Dr. Clifford W. Bassett, MD
Allergist & Immunologist

Red, itchy eyes is a classic symptom of allergies, but there are many others—and some may surprise you, says allergy specialist Dr. Clifford Bassett. To learn more about allergy symptoms, watch this video.

Allergy symptoms depend on your particular allergy and can involve the airways, sinuses and nasal passages, skin, and digestive system.

Hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis, may cause congestion, itchy, runny nose and itchy, watery or swollen eyes (conjunctivitis). Atopic dermatitis, an allergic skin condition also called eczema, may cause itchy skin, red skin and flaking or peeling skin. A food allergy may cause a tingling mouth, swelling of the lips, tongue, face or throat, hives or anaphylaxis. An insect sting allergy may cause a large area of swelling (edema) at the sting site, itching or hives all over your body, cough, chest tightness, wheezing or shortness of breath or anaphylaxis. A drug allergy may cause hives, itchy skin, rash, facial swelling, wheezing or anaphylaxis.

Allergies can negatively impact quality of life, as well as decrease productivity in our daily jobs. Allergies can also worsen other health problems like asthma. Common symptoms include nasal congestion, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes. Thankfully, there are many effective treatments for allergies.

Your allergy symptoms depend on whether you have breathed, touched or swallowed something you're allergic to. They also depend on how much of the substance you have been in contact with.

Here are a few ways your body may react:

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing, a whistling sound (wheezing) when you breathe out or trouble breathing
  • Skin rash or hives
  • Upset stomach or cramps
  • Diarrhea

Symptoms can be mild or serious.

Allergy symptoms can vary depending on the type of allergic reaction occurring. In general, allergy symptoms include watery or itchy eyes, a runny nose, itchy skin and sneezing. Rashes, hives and swelling may also be common. In anaphylactic reactions, more serious symptoms occur and can be deadly. These include airway constriction and a swollen lining in the throat and airways, both of which can affect breathing. In other cases, blood vessels may expand, which can cause blood pressure to fall to an unsafe level. These reactions may occur within minutes of exposure to the allergen.

Dr. Lawrence T. Chiaramonte, MD
Allergist & Immunologist

Early phase symptoms of allergies include:

  • Nasal itch
  • Sneezing
  • Rhinorrhea
  • Postnasal drip which can lead to cough
  • Red, teary eyes
  • Itchy eyes, palate, throat

Late phase symptoms of allergies include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Postnasal drip which can lead to cough
  • Rhinorrhea
  • Sneezing



Asthma Allergies Children: A Parent's Guide

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Asthma Allergies Children: A Parent's Guide

Asthma and allergies are at epidemic proportions. It doesn't have to be that way. Two experienced pediatric allergists tell everything a conscientious parent needs to know about these conditions,...

Symptoms of airborne allergies include itchy eyes or ears, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, itchy skin, sore throat, coughing, postnasal drip, dark circles under the eyes. Food allergies may cause stingling or swelling in the mouth, hives and anaphylaxis (a life threatening reaction). Insect sting allergies may cause swelling of the skin around the sting, itching or hives, cough, chest tightness, breathing problems and anaphylaxis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.