Allergic Reaction

Allergic Reactions

An allergic reaction is an abnormal response of the body to a particular substance or allergen. Allergies can generally be divided into four categories: inhalants (such as pollen, animal fur or dander, or dust mite), food (such as peanuts, dairy, shellfish, or eggs), insect stings (such as bees or wasps), and medications. An allergic reaction can vary from mild to life-threatening.

Symptoms of an Allergic Reaction

The symptoms of an allergic reaction can differ from person to person, but the most common symptoms include:

  • Itching, redness, and swelling of the skin
  • Hives or welts on the skin
  • Sneezing, coughing, or a runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Stomach cramps, vomiting, and/or diarrhea
  • Anaphylaxis, a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction

Treatment of an Allergic Reaction

The treatment of an allergic reaction depends on the severity of the symptoms. Mild reactions can often be treated with medications such as antihistamines. Serious reactions may require treatment with epinephrine or corticosteroids, and in the most severe cases may require hospitalization. It is important to seek medical attention immediately if you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Preventing Allergic Reactions

The best way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid coming into contact with the allergen or allergens that cause the reaction. If you are allergic to certain foods, medications, or insect stings, be sure to read labels, be vigilant when dining out, and avoid medications that may contain the allergens you are sensitive to. If you experience severe allergic reactions, you may need to wear a medical alert bracelet or carry an epinephrine auto-injector.