What are allergies

Allergies are your body’s immune system responding to a foreign substance called an allergen. Allergens can be anything from certain foods, to pollen, dust, or pet dander, and most allergens are harmless to the people that react to them.

What’s an allergic reaction

The purpose of your immune system is to fight off foreign substances and pathogens that can cause harm and damage to the body. In someone that has an allergy, their body reacts to the allergen as though it’s something harmful, and will try to remove or destroy it.

What causes allergies

Allergens are what we call something that causes an allergic reaction. Everyone is different, but anything that causes your body to negatively react can be an allergen; this can include certain foods, types of animals, insect bites or stings, medications, even dust or pollen.

Seasonal allergies

Sometimes called “hay fever”, seasonal allergies tend to affect those whose body’s overreact to outdoor allergens such as pollen from plants, trees, grasses, etc. Though these types of allergies can happen year-round, they typically tend to fluctuate seasonally, along with the plants and trees that cause them: less in the winter, and increasing in the spring, summer, and fall.


Allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe depending on the person, and the type of allergy that affects them.

Common symptoms of mild allergies include:

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, runny, or congested nose
  • Raised, itchy, and/or red rash (hives)
  • Swelling of lips, tongue, eyes, or face
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Rarer symptoms related to severe allergic reactions include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of throat or mouth
  • Collapsing and/or losing consciousness

When to See a Medical Doctor

Mild allergies can usually be managed by mitigating the exposure to allergens. However, if it’s impossible to completely avoid them (like seasonal allergies), or they’re causing constant discomfort, speak to a doctor to get the appropriate advice and medications to better manage allergies.

If you’re experiencing any symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, call 911 and seek immediate medical attention.