Symptoms of Allergies


What are the symptoms of allergies?

Allergy symptoms vary for each person – and each allergy. Seasonal or environmental allergies symptoms usually include:

  • Runny nose, usually with clear or pale-colored mucus
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Red, watery eyes
  • Itching around the nose, mouth or eyes

Seasonal or environmental allergies include allergies to pollen, such as ragweed; mold, pets, dust mites, cockroaches and mice.

    Photo of young girl rubbing her eye with symbols of common allergy symptoms

    Untreated symptoms may also result in the following:

    • Nasal congestion
    • Headache
    • Sore throat
    • Postnasal drip
    • Decreased sense of smell
    • Sinus infections (also called sinusitis)
    • Ear infections
    • Puffiness or dark circles under the eyes
    • Shortness of breath
    • Fatigue
    Photo of woman at a computer with icons representing anaphylaxis triggers

    What are the symptoms of anaphylaxis?

    Symptoms of allergies can be serious. Life-threatening allergic reaction occur to:

    The following symptoms can be serious and progress quickly to the point where emergency care is needed:

    • Skin: itching, redness, swelling and hives
    • Mouth: itching, swelling of lips and tongue
    • Stomach: vomiting, diarrhea, cramps
    • Respiratory: shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, chest pain and/or tightness
    • Heart: weak pulse, dizziness, faintness
    • Headache, nasal congestion, watery eyes, sweating
    • Confusion, feeling of impending doom
    • Loss of consciousness

    Anaphylaxis typically occurs when at least two organ systems (skin, mouth, stomach, respiratory, heart) are involved in symptoms.

    See More Information on Anaphylaxis

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    Why do we sneeze?

    People sneeze in response to an irritation or tickle in their nose. When the inside of your nose gets a tickle, the nerve endings send a message to the sneeze center in your brain. This transmits a call to an amazingly complex set of muscles to get rid of the tickle quickly.

    In a split second, your stomach, chest, diaphragm (the breathing muscle beneath your lungs), vocal cord, throat, face and eyelid muscles flex and … Ah-Choo! At a roaring 600 miles per hour, your body tries to dislodge the pollen, dust, pepper, mold, virus or bacteria trapped in your nose. (Kids sneeze at about 100 miles per hour.)

    Some people sneeze when they breathe cold air. Others sneeze in threes. And still others sneeze when stepping from dark into bright light. If this happens to you, then you have a condition called “photic” (meaning “light”) sneezing.

    Photo of a young girl sneezing
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    Are there other conditions that can look like or complicate allergies

    There are other types of conditions that can mimic allergies, but are different than an IgE-mediated allergy. The symptoms, diagnosis and treatment can vary depending upon the condition. Here are some of them.

    chronic idiopathic urticaria (CIU)

    influenza (flu), infections and other viruses

    primary immunodeficiency diseases

    cold urticaria

    mast cell diseases

    hereditary angioedema


    nasal polyps




    Food-related conditions that can have symptoms similar to food allergies include:

    Celiac disease

    eosinophilic esophagitis


    food intolerance


    oral allergy syndrome

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