Allergies are a condition that occurs when the body’s immune system sees a substance as a harmful “invader” and overreacts to it. The substances that cause allergic reactions are called allergens, which are what trigger an immune response, also called an allergic reaction.
- Chronic dry cough that lasts more than three weeks
- Coughing more during some seasons
- Coughing more in some environments
Coughing due to allergies may also be a result of a runny nose that causes postnasal drip, in which mucus runs down the back of the throat, triggering a cough.
In addition to cough, common allergy symptoms include:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Itchy nose
- Runny nose
- Skin redness
- Stomach cramps
- Swelling in the mouth and throat/throat closing
- Tongue swelling
- Chest tightness
- Shortness of breath
- Lightheadedness or fainting
- A sense of “impending doom”
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Rapid and weak pulse
Some of the above symptoms may be severe and can be signs of a serious and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis). Sudden, severe, widespread reactions require emergency care. Call 911 if you suspect someone is having a severe allergic reaction.
What Causes Allergies?
Allergic reactions result when the body’s immune system sees a substance as a harmful “invader” and overreacts to it.
Allergens can enter or come into contact with the body in several ways:
What Are Allergy Tests?
Allergies are diagnosed starting with a medical history and physical exam.
Tests used to diagnose allergies may include:
- Skin prick test
- Intradermal skin test
- Blood tests (specific IgE)
- Physician-supervised challenge tests
- Patch Test
What Are Allergy Medications?
The first line of treatment for allergies is to avoid known allergens if possible. When this is not possible, medications used to treat allergies include:
- Nasal corticosteroids (nose sprays) for nasal allergies
- Antihistamines to help with sneezing, itching, runny nose, and hives often caused by seasonal and indoor allergies
- Mast cell stabilizers to help with itchy, watery eyes, or an itchy, runny nose
- Decongestants to reduce nasal congestion
- Corticosteroid creams or ointments to relieve itching and rash
- Oral corticosteroids to reduce swelling and stop severe allergic reactions
- Epinephrine is administered during a life-threatening anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction)
- Allergy shots
- Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT)
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