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The allergic reaction can cause symptoms such as itchy or red skin, sneezing, coughing, and itchy nose, eyes, or throat. These symptoms usually appear when the person has an exaggerated immune system response to a substance such as dust mites, pollen, animal dander or certain types of food such as milk, shrimp or peanuts.
Mild to moderate allergic reactions can often be resolved with simple measures such as avoiding contact with the substance that causes the allergy or using antiallergic drugs such as dexchlorpheniramine or desloratadine, for example. However, medical help should be sought whenever symptoms do not improve within 2 days, even with the use of antiallergics, or if symptoms worsen.
In cases of severe allergic reaction or anaphylactic shock the symptoms are more severe, including difficulty breathing, dizziness and swelling in the mouth, tongue or throat, in which case medical attention should be sought as soon as possible or the nearest emergency room.
The main symptoms of allergic reaction include:
1. Sneezing or stuffy nose
Sneezing, stuffy nose or runny nose are common symptoms of allergic rhinitis that can be caused by contact with dust, mites, mold, pollen, some plants or animal hair, for example. Other symptoms of allergic rhinitis include itchy nose or eyes.
What to do: a simple measure to improve symptoms is to wash the nose with 0.9% saline solution, as it helps to eliminate the secretions that cause the nose discomfort stuffy and coryza. However, if symptoms are persistent, a doctor should be consulted to assess the need to start treatment with corticosteroid nasal sprays or antiallergic drugs such as dexchlorpheniramine or fexofenadine, for example.
See how to use saline solution to unclog your nose.
2. Red eyes or watery eyes
Red eyes or watery eyes are symptoms of an allergic reaction that can be caused by contact with fungi, pollen or grass. These symptoms are usually common in allergic conjunctivitis and may be accompanied by itchy or swollen eyes.
What to do: cold compresses can be applied to the eyes for 2 or 3 minutes to help reduce symptoms, use anti-allergy eye drops such as ketotifen, or take anti-allergy, such as fexofenadine or hydroxyzine, as directed by a physician. In addition, contact with what causes the allergy should be avoided so as not to make it worse or to prevent another allergic crisis. See other treatment options for allergic conjunctivitis.
3. Cough or shortness of breath
Cough and shortness of breath are symptoms of allergies, as in asthma, and may be accompanied by wheezing or production of phlegm.This allergic reaction can usually be caused by contact with pollen, mites, animal hair or feathers, cigarette smoke, perfumes or cold air, for example.
Also, in people who have asthma, certain medications such as aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or diclofenac can trigger an allergic attack.
What to do: A medical evaluation should always be performed, as these allergic reactions can be life-threatening, depending on their severity. Treatment usually includes medications such as steroids and firecrackers, with drugs to dilate the bronchi, which are structures in the lungs responsible for oxygenating the body. Check out all asthma treatment options.
4. Red spots or itchy skin
Red spots or itchy skin are hive-like allergic reactions that can appear on any part of the body in children and adults, and can be caused by an allergy to:
- Foods such as nuts, peanuts or seafood;
- Pollen or plants;
- Insect bite;
- Heat or sun exposure;
- Antibiotics such as amoxicillin;
- Latex used in gloves or tourniquet for taking blood tests.
In addition to swelling and redness of the skin, other symptoms that can appear in this type of allergic reaction include stinging or burning of the skin.
What to do: The treatment of this type of allergic reaction can be done with the use of oral or topical antiallergic and, usually, the symptoms improve in 2 days. However, if there is no improvement, the red spots return or spread throughout the body, you should seek medical help to diagnose the cause of the allergy and make the most appropriate treatment. See options for home remedies to treat skin allergy.
5. Abdominal pain or diarrhea
Abdominal pain or diarrhea are symptoms of an allergic reaction to foods such as peanuts, shrimp, fish, milk, egg, wheat or soy beans, for example, and can start immediately after contact with the food or up to 2 hours after ingestion.
It is important to emphasize that food allergy is different from food intolerance, as it involves a reaction of the immune system when the person ingests a certain food. Food intolerance is an alteration of some function of the digestive system, such as the deficient production of enzymes that degrade milk, causing lactose intolerance, for example.
Other symptoms of food allergy are bloating, nausea, vomiting, itching or small blisters on the skin or a runny nose.
What to do: Medications such as antiallergics can help relieve symptoms, however, you should identify which food caused the allergy and eliminate it from your diet.In more severe cases, anaphylactic shock can occur with symptoms of tingling, dizziness, fainting, shortness of breath, itching all over the body or swelling of the tongue, mouth or throat, requiring the person to be taken to the hospital immediately.
How to identify a severe allergic reaction
Severe allergic reactions, also called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock, begin shortly after the first few minutes of contact with the substance, insect, drug or food to which the person is allergic.
This type of reaction can affect the whole body and cause swelling and obstruction of the airways, which can lead to death if the person is not treated quickly.
Symptoms of anaphylactic reaction include:
- Swelling in the mouth, tongue or all over the body;
- Swelling in the throat, known as edema of the glottis;
- Difficulty swallowing;
- Accelerated heartbeat;
- Dizziness or fainting;
- Excessive sweating;
- Cold skin;
- Itching, redness, or blistering of the skin;
- Difficulty breathing;
- Cardiac arrest.
What to do in case of a severe allergic reaction
In case of a severe allergic reaction, the person should be treated immediately, as the allergic reaction can be fatal. In this case, you should:
- Dial 192 immediately;
- Check if the person breathes;
- If not breathing, perform cardiac massage and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation;
- Help the person take or inject emergency allergy medication;
- Do not give oral medication if the person is having difficulty breathing;
- Lay the person on their back. Cover the person with a coat or blanket, unless you suspect a head, neck, back, or leg injury.
If a person has previously had an allergic reaction to a substance, even a mild one, being exposed to that substance again may develop an even more severe allergic reaction.
Therefore, for people who are at greater risk of developing a severe allergic reaction, it is always recommended to have an identification card or bracelet with information about the type of allergy you have and the contact of a family member.