Allergy symptoms

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
There are many different allergy symptoms.
There are many different allergy symptoms.

Allergy isn’t really a disease. It’s a mechanism that can be present in some illnesses – the so-called “allergic diseases”. So, “allergy” per se doesn’t have symptoms; the disease itself does. 

Common allergic diseases include asthma, eczema, rhinitis, hives, insect allergies, food allergies, drug allergies and anaphylaxis. Many of these diseases can have both allergic and non-allergic “versions”. For example, a reaction to insect bites may be an allergy or a toxic reaction.

Food reactions could be allergies, aversions, intolerances or poisoning. There are also both allergic and non-allergic subtypes of asthma and rhinitis.

Asthma symptoms

Symptoms of asthma include recurrent tight chest, as well as wheezing and/or coughing. Coughing is usually prominent in the early hours of the morning, especially between 1am and 2am, and doesn’t produce sputum.

Asthma symptoms are often associated with the common cold (or other upper respiratory tract infections), but may also be triggered by exercise (particularly in cold and dry weather), laughter, crying, and exposure to allergens and irritants such as cigarette smoke, petrol or paint fumes.

There may be a seasonal variation in symptoms and a variation in symptoms throughout the day. Symptoms may wake you up in the early hours of the morning, or you may experience increased symptoms when you get out of bed.

Asthma symptoms are reversible with an asthma pump or a nebuliser. 

Allergic rhinitis symptoms

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis (hay fever) include:

Blocked nose
Itchy or runny nose
Red, itchy eyes
Unusual sounds such as persistent sniffing, snorting or clicking noises
An itchy throat and/or ears
Trouble sleeping

Eczema symptoms

A typical eczema-type rash, which comes and goes, is always itchy, and can be acute or chronic. The acute rash is red, swollen and often accompanied by a yellowish ooze, while the chronic rash is thick and darker than normal skin.

The rash usually starts in infancy and changes its distribution as a child develops. It typically first affects the cheeks and chin, later the outsides of the arms and knees, and later the insides (flexures) of the arms and knees.

Symptoms of urticaria (hives/bommels)

Symptoms include a raised rash that’s itchy but not painful. 

Urticaria usually lasts less than three days and heals without leaving a change in colour of the skin. It tends to shift across the body, and can occur on its own (spontaneously) or be triggered by specific physical or allergic triggers.

Symptoms of food, insect and drug allergies

These include:

Swelling of the skin, lips, tongue or face
Itchy skin, hives or eczema
Wheezing or noisy breathing
Tightness of the throat with coughing or voice change
Nausea or vomiting
Stuffy or runny nose, or sneezing
A drop in blood pressure
Rapid pulse
Trouble swallowing
Difficulty breathing
Loss of consciousness

Reviewed by Prof Mike Levin, Head of Division of Asthma and Allergy at the University of Cape Town: MBChB; FCPaed; MMed; PhD Diploma Allergology; EAACI UEMS Exam in Allergy. FAAAAI, FACAAI. March 2018

Image credit: iStock

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Authorities should bring in the army already
11% - 2316 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
48% - 9934 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
37% - 7685 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
4% - 765 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.