Understanding Common Allergies and Their Symptoms

Catherine Fuller, MD is a leading expert on allergies and their symptoms. In this article, we will explore some of the most common allergies and how they manifest themselves in the human body.

Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis, commonly referred to as hay fever, affects millions of people worldwide. This type of allergy is caused by the body’s immune system reacting to pollen, dust, or other environmental irritants. Symptoms of allergic rhinitis include a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes. In some cases, people with allergic rhinitis may also experience headaches or fatigue.


Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that is often triggered by environmental irritants. When a person with asthma is exposed to an irritant, their airways become inflamed, making it difficult to breathe. Symptoms of asthma include shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and tightness in the chest. In severe cases, asthma can be life-threatening. It is important for people with asthma to work closely with their doctors to manage their symptoms.


Eczema is a skin condition that causes red, itchy, and dry patches of skin. While the exact cause of eczema is unknown, it is believed to be related to an overactive immune system. Eczema can be triggered by a variety of factors, including stress, certain foods, and environmental irritants. In some cases, people with eczema may also experience blisters or oozing sores.

Food Allergies

Food allergies occur when the body’s immune system reacts to a specific food. Common food allergens include peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, eggs, and dairy products. Symptoms of food allergies can range from mild (such as hives or itching) to severe (such as anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening reaction). It is important for people with food allergies to avoid the foods that trigger their symptoms and to carry appropriate medication (such as an epinephrine auto-injector) in case of an emergency.

Allergic Conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis is an eye condition that is caused by an allergic reaction. Symptoms of allergic conjunctivitis include redness, itching, and swelling of the eyes. In some cases, people with allergic conjunctivitis may also experience watery eyes or sensitivity to light. Treatment for allergic conjunctivitis may include antihistamine eye drops or other medications.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a skin condition that is caused by exposure to an irritant or allergen. Symptoms of contact dermatitis include redness, itching, and inflammation of the skin. Common causes of contact dermatitis include exposure to certain chemicals, such as detergents or soaps. Treatment for contact dermatitis may include topical creams or ointments to reduce inflammation.

Insect Sting Allergies

Insect sting allergies occur when the body’s immune system reacts to a sting from an insect, such as a bee or wasp. Symptoms of insect sting allergies can range from mild (such as swelling or itching at the site of the sting) to severe (such as anaphylaxis). Treatment for insect sting allergies may include antihistamines or epinephrine injections.


While allergies can be a nuisance, they can also be dangerous if left untreated. If you suspect that you have an allergy, it is important to work with a qualified healthcare provider to identify the cause and to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs. With proper management, most people with allergies are able to live healthy, active lives.

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