Vital Urgent Care


What are Allergies?

Allergies occur when your immune system mistakenly identifies a harmless substance as a threat to your body. In response, your system launches an attack on the intruder, known as an allergen. Histamines are then released, resulting in allergy symptoms.

The severity of allergies can range from mild irritation to life-threatening anaphylactic shock. Various substances can trigger allergies, including:

  • Airborne allergens such as pollen, animal dander, dust mites, and mold.

  • Insect stings, particularly from bees.

  • Medications, most commonly penicillin and penicillin-based antibiotics.

  • Skin allergens like latex.

  • Food allergens including eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, tree nuts, and wheat.

Allergy Symptoms

Symptoms of allergies vary depending on the intensity of the allergic reaction.

Mild Symptoms

Mild symptoms are commonly mistaken for a common cold and may include:

  • Sneezing.

  • Runny or stuffy nose.

  • Itchy, watery eyes.

  • Rash or itchiness of the skin.

Severe symptoms

Severe symptoms require immediate medical attention, as they indicate anaphylaxis, a life-threatening emergency. Signs of anaphylaxis include:

  • Tingling sensation in the mouth.

  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, face, or throat.

  • Chest tightness, wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath.

  • Nausea and vomiting.

Allergy Cold
Characteristics Duration days to months 3-14 days
Time of Year anytime usually winter
Symptom Onset days to months a few days
Symptoms Cough sometimes often
Fever never rarely
Itchy/Watery Eyes often rarely
Sore Throat sometimes often
Runny/Stuffy Nose often, usually clear mucus often, usually yellow mucus

NOTE: If you have been diagnosed with a life-threatening allergy and experience symptoms of anaphylaxis, call 911 immediately and administer your epinephrine auto-injector (such as EpiPen®) if available. Anaphylactic reactions should always be treated in an emergency room.

FUN FACT: Seasonal allergies and colds share similar symptoms, making it challenging to differentiate between the two. Learn how to distinguish allergies from colds with our informative infographic.

Treatment of Allergies

While allergies cannot be cured, symptom management is possible through various approaches:

  • Avoiding allergens is one of the most effective ways to prevent or alleviate allergic symptoms. Although it may be challenging to avoid certain triggers like pollen, reducing exposure can significantly help in minimizing symptoms. For individuals with severe allergies, strict avoidance of the allergen is crucial.

  • Nasal rinsing with a saline solution can help clear nasal passages for those with airborne allergies, providing relief from the offending allergens.

  • Medications, including epinephrine auto-injectors, are prescribed for individuals with severe allergies who are at risk of an anaphylactic reaction.

Please note that EpiPen® is a registered trademark of Mylan Inc.

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