Allergic Reaction: Causes, Symptoms, and ER Treatment
Allergies are your body’s reaction to a normally harmless substance such as pollen, molds, animal dander, latex, certain foods and insect stings. Allergy symptoms range from mild – rash or hives, itchiness, runny nose, watery/red eyes – to life-threatening. Treatments include antihistamines, decongestants, nasal steroids, asthma medicines and immunotherapy.
Are you having an allergic reaction? It may be time to visit an emergency center or ER. There are many substances that can cause an allergic reaction and they vary from person to person. While some people sneeze non-stop, others suffer from watery eyes or itchy hives. Whatever the cause of the reaction, it comes down to one thing – allergies.
What are allergies?
Allergies are your body’s reaction to a substance it views as a harmful “invader.” For example, coming into contact with what is normally a harmless substance, such as pollen, might cause your immune system (your body’s defense system) to react. Substances that cause these reactions are called allergens.
What is an allergic reaction?
An “allergic reaction” is the way your body responds to the allergen. A chain of events occur that result in an allergic reaction.
If you are prone to allergies, the first time you’re exposed to a specific allergen (such as pollen), your body responds by producing allergic (IgE) antibodies. The job of these antibodies is to find the allergens and help remove them from your system. As a result, a chemical called histamine is released and causes symptoms of allergies.
An allergic reaction occurs because your immune system is trying to do what it is designed to do – defend your body against bacteria and viruses trying to harm you. These viruses and bacteria are commonly known as allergens.
Causes of Allergic Reactions
Allergy symptoms, which depend on the substance involved, can affect your airways, sinuses and nasal passages, skin, and digestive system. Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe. In some severe cases, allergies can trigger a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis.
There are many substances that can cause allergic reactions and they vary from person to person. Below are some common causes of allergic reactions.
Are you having an allergic reaction? Visit an ER near you.
Hay fever, also called allergic rhinitis, can cause:
- Itching of the nose, eyes or roof of the mouth
- Runny, stuffy nose
- Watery, red or swollen eyes (conjunctivitis)
A food allergy can cause:
- Tingling in the mouth
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, face or throat
An insect sting allergy can cause:
- A large area of swelling (edema) at the sting site
- Itching or hives all over the body
- Cough, chest tightness, wheezing or shortness of breath
A drug allergy can cause:
- Itchy skin
- Facial swelling
Atopic dermatitis, an allergic skin condition also called eczema, can cause skin to:
- Flake or peel
Some types of allergies, including allergies to foods and insect stings, can trigger a severe reaction known as anaphylaxis. A life-threatening medical emergency, anaphylaxis can cause you to go into shock. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
- Loss of consciousness
- A drop in blood pressure
- Severe shortness of breath
- Skin rash
- A rapid, weak pulse
- Nausea and vomiting
When to Visit an ER for an Allergic Reaction
Many people who suffer from allergic reactions can alleviate their symptoms by taking an over-the-counter antihistamine. However, if an antihistamine is not providing you with relief or if your allergies are severe enough that they interfere with your quality of life, you may want to see a physician.
Visit our Emergency Room near you if you have any of the following symptoms associated with allergic reactions:
- Constricted airways or trouble breathing
- Swelling of the throat
- Increased heart rate
- Sudden drop in blood pressure
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
If you believe that you are experiencing a severe allergic reaction, please visit our emergency room. We have an ER near you. All of our emergency rooms are open 24/7 to help with your medical emergency. Schedule an emergency room appointment with us or just come right in.