An allergy is an immune system problem to a substance (allergen) that is normally harmless. An allergen can be inhaled, swallowed, or come in contact with the skin.
Signs & Symptoms
For Common Allergies
Allergy symptoms usually affect the breathing passages, eyes, or skin.
Signs of a Severe Allergic Reaction
Anaphylaxis is a sudden and severe allergic reaction. It occurs within minutes of exposure. It worsens very fast. It can lead to anaphylactic shock and death within 15 minutes if emergency medical care is not received.
Insect stings, nuts, penicillin, and shellfish are common causes of a severe allergic reaction.
How are allergies treated? Avoid the allergen(s). Skin tests can identify allergens. Allergy shots may be prescribed. Medications can prevent and relieve symptoms. Persons who have had a sudden, severe allergic reaction may be prescribed medicine, such as an EpiPen. This is used for a severe reaction before getting emergency medical care.
Questions to Ask
Do you have any of these problems?
Self-Care / Prevention
For a Severe Allergic Reaction
For Other Allergic Reactions
(See Self-Care / Prevention for Hay Fever and Self-Care for Skin Rashes.)