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The type of allergy symptoms a person can expect from an allergic reaction will depend on the type of allergen and where in the body it has its effect. People allergic to dusts, moulds and pollens are likely to experience respiratory symptoms:
• Itchy nose
• Itchy eyes
• Asthma attacks
People with food allergies are more likely to experience symptoms within the gastrointestinal system:
• Tingling, swelling or rashes in or around the mouth
• Abdominal pain
Another common type of allergic reaction is skin allergies. Skin allergies can be triggered by substances like nickel and other chemicals. Exposure to an allergen will cause a rash to develop on the skin at the site of the exposure.
An allergic reaction is an abnormal response by the body to an environmental agent. When the body comes into contact with an allergen it treats it as a potentially hostile chemical or potential attacker that will cause the body harm. The body then responds in a way that causes the allergy symptoms.
Allergy symptoms are repetitive and produced by a predictable outside influence. When a person suffers from an allergy they are likely to have the same symptoms each time they come into contact with the allergen. The best way to distinguish between allergy symptoms and illness is to look at how repetitive the symptoms are. Dr Peter Saul, a specialist in allergies, uses the example of pollen allergies: "Everybody gets a cold and everybody sneezes from time to time, but not everybody gets sneezing and a runny nose from April to August every year."
Dr Peter Saul MB ChB DRCOG DCH MRCGP
10027 October 2011
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