Allergy and Sinus

Allergy 101

  • Nearly 1 in 3 adults

    face some type of allergy—whether that's seasonal or an allergy to food, pet dander and more.

    Source: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
  • The most common allergy triggers are pollen, dust mites, mold, animal dander, insect stings, latex, and certain food and medications.

    Source: WebMD
  • Allergic conditions

    are the most common health issues affecting children in the U.S.

    Source: CDC. Healthy Schools. Food Allergies in Schools
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Q&A: Allergy & Sinus
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 50 million people suffer from some form of allergies. If you're one of them or believe that you might be, we can provide answers to your questions about what allergies are, what causes them and what you can do to alleviate troublesome symptoms.
  • How long do allergies last?
    Unfortunately, you can't predict how long allergy symptoms will persist. Allergies happen when your immune system overreacts to a substance that's harmless to most people. If you're allergic to the substance, it's considered an allergen. Your body sees allergens as a threat, which causes an allergic reaction. In an allergic reaction, your body releases a chemical, called histamine, which triggers symptoms. You'll continue to have symptoms as long as you're exposed to the allergen. That's why people with hay fever allergies due to pollen in the air outside can have symptoms whenever pollen counts are high. Symptoms may last for weeks or even months at a time.
  • How do I know if I have allergies?
    How do you know if you have allergies?
    The only way to know for sure if a symptom like a rash or sneezing is caused by allergies is to visit a doctor. Medical specialists called allergists can determine whether or not you have allergies. Your doctor may look at your medical history, do a physical exam and then test you for allergies through skin or blood tests. Your primary physician can recommend an allergist for you.
  • How do you know if you have a gluten allergy?
    The phrase "gluten allergy" is misleading. Gluten is a protein found mostly in wheat, barley and rye. While people can be allergic to wheat, there's no such thing as a gluten allergy. Some people are sensitive or intolerant to gluten. Intolerances are different than allergies, but they can have some similar symptoms. If you have signs of a food allergy, ask your doctor to recommend an allergist so you can get tested.
  • What to do for allergies
    The best way to prevent allergies is to avoid whatever triggers them as much as possible. Of course, it can be challenging to stay away from pollen, dust and many other common allergens. Your doctor can recommend medicine and other treatments to help you manage symptoms.
  • What do allergies feel like?
    Symptoms of an allergy vary based on the type of reaction that you are having:
    • Food allergies can affect your skin, digestive system, cardiovascular system or respiratory tract. Symptoms can include vomiting, stomach pain, hives, shortness of breath, wheezing similar to asthma, repetitive coughing and swelling of the tongue. Food allergies can also cause anaphylaxis. This life-threatening condition can cause trouble breathing and lead to shock.
    • Skin allergies typically cause an itchy, burning or red rash that consists of small bumps or large welts. Hives and eczema are the two most common types of rashes related to allergies.
    • Nasal allergies caused by dust, pollen, dog or cat dander and other environmental allergens can cause sneezing, a runny or stuffy nose, red, itchy or watery eyes, wheezing, coughing, itchiness and chest tightness or shortness of breath.
  • How to get rid of allergies
    Unfortunately, there is no cure for allergies. Avoiding allergens as much as possible can help you reduce the frequency of symptoms. Treatments recommended by your doctor can help reduce the severity of symptoms when you're not able to avoid allergens.
  • How to stop allergies
    Avoiding allergy triggers can help stop symptoms. Your doctor can also recommend allergy treatment to manage symptoms when they do occur. There are no treatments available to stop or completely cure allergies.
  • How to treat allergies
    Depending on what symptoms you have, there may be ways to get relief:
    • For eye symptoms like itching and watering, your doctor may suggest over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops to keep your body from releasing histamine.
    • OTC or prescription topical medications can ease itchiness and stop the spread of skin rashes due to allergies.
    • For nasal allergies, doctors may recommend OTC drugs, such as nasal corticosteroid sprays, antihistamines or decongestants, to control symptoms.
    If these options do not provide enough relief, your doctor may prescribe a stronger medication. Your doctor may also recommend allergy shots to make your body less sensitive to allergens.
  • How to tell the difference between a cold and allergies
    There are a few ways to tell the difference between seasonal allergies and a cold:
    • How symptoms start: With a cold, you'll likely develop symptoms gradually over the course of a few days. For example, you might start sneezing first and then develop sinus nasal congestion the next day. Allergy symptoms typically occur all at once right after you've been exposed to the allergen.
    • Eye symptoms: Both seasonal allergies and colds affect your respiratory tract, possibly causing nasal congestion, sneezing and a cough. However, allergies also tend to cause itchy, watery eyes, a symptom that isn't common with colds.
    • How long symptoms last: If symptoms resolve within 7 to 10 days, a cold may be the more likely cause. Seasonal allergy symptoms can last for as long as you're exposed to the allergen. This can be 6 weeks or longer during pollen season.
  • Can allergies cause fevers?
    Allergies typically do not cause a fever. Nasal congestion, sneezing and headaches accompanied by a fever are more likely to be due to a cold or flu virus.
  • Can allergies cause a sore throat?
    If your nasal passages are congested, mucus may drip down into your throat, causing irritation and discomfort. However, most sore throats are caused by viruses, like the common cold or flu.
  • Can allergies make you tired?
    Yes, some people feel fatigued while experiencing allergy symptoms. Some medications used to treat symptoms of allergies can also cause drowsiness.
  • Can allergies cause coughing?
    Both food and environmental allergies can trigger coughing. If your cough is accompanied by trouble breathing or tightness in your chest or throat, you should seek emergency medical treatment immediately, as you might be having a dangerous, anaphylactic allergic reaction.
  • Can allergies cause headaches?
    Yes, it's possible to experience headaches with allergies. Nasal congestion can cause sinus pain, and allergies can also cause migraine headaches. This is throbbing, often one-sided head pain that grows worse in sunlight and often causes nausea.
  • Can allergies cause dizziness?
    Dizziness is more commonly associated with food allergies than environmental allergies. Dizziness or fainting can be a sign of a dangerous anaphylactic reaction.
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