Allergies are a common health issue that can affect people of all ages. The symptoms can vary widely depending on the type of allergic reaction and the specific trigger. Understanding the common symptoms of allergies can help you identify and manage them effectively. Here are the top 7 allergy symptoms you should be aware of.

Key Takeaways

  • Allergy symptoms can vary depending on the type of allergic reaction and the trigger.
  • Common symptoms include stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, and itchy nose.
  • Itchy, watery eyes and skin reactions like hives or rashes are common.
  • Severe allergic reactions can lead to shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing.
  • Identifying and managing allergy symptoms can improve your quality of life.

1. Stuffy and Runny Nose

A stuffy and runny nose is one of the most common symptoms of allergies. This symptom is often caused by inflammation in the nasal passages due to exposure to allergens such as pollen, pet dander, or dust mites. A runny or stuffy nose with thin, clear fluid is a typical sign of an allergic reaction.


  • Pollen
  • Pet dander
  • Dust mites
  • Strong odors

When to Seek Medical Advice

If your symptoms persist or worsen, it may be time to consult a healthcare professional. Persistent nasal congestion can sometimes lead to more serious conditions like sinus infections.

If you experience a clear runny or stuffy nose and sneezing, it could be an indication of an allergy rather than a common cold.

2. Sneezing

person sneezing in a park during springSneezing is a common symptom of allergies and occurs in response to an irritation or tickle in the nose. When the inside of your nose gets a tickle, the nerve endings send a message to the sneeze center in your brain. This transmits a call to an amazingly complex set of muscles to get rid of the tickle quickly.

Why Do We Sneeze?

People sneeze in response to an irritation or tickle in their nose. In a split second, your stomach, chest, diaphragm (the breathing muscle beneath your lungs), vocal cord, throat, face, and eyelid muscles flex and … Ah-Choo! At a roaring 600 miles per hour, your body tries to dislodge the pollen, dust, mold, virus, or bacteria trapped in your nose. (Children sneeze at about 100 miles per hour.)

Photic Sneezing

Some people sneeze when they breathe cold air. Others sneeze in threes. And still, others sneeze when stepping from the dark into bright light. If this happens to you, then you have a condition called photic (meaning “light”) sneezing.

Allergic rhinitis usually causes cold-like symptoms, such as sneezing; itchiness; a blocked or runny nose. These symptoms can significantly affect your daily life and comfort.

3. Itchy Nose

An itchy nose is a common symptom of allergic rhinitis, often caused by inflammation in the nasal passages. This condition is frequently triggered by environmental allergens such as pollen, pet dander, and dust mites. Itching in the nose can be particularly bothersome and is often accompanied by other symptoms like sneezing and a runny nose.


  • Pollen
  • Pet dander
  • Dust mites
  • Strong odors

Relief Options

  1. Over-the-counter (OTC) products: These include nasal sprays, antihistamines, and decongestants.
  2. Avoiding allergens: Try to stay away from known triggers.
  3. Home remedies: Saline nasal rinses can help clear allergens from the nasal passages.

Itchy nose, along with other symptoms like sneezing and a runny nose, can significantly impact your daily life, making it essential to identify and manage your triggers effectively.

4. Itchy, Watery Eyes

Itchy, watery eyes, also known as allergic conjunctivitis, occur when your eyes and eyelids become irritated and inflamed after encountering an allergen. Common triggers include pollens, animal dander, dust mite feces, and mold. These allergens cause inflammation, leading to redness, itching, and excessive tearing.


  • Redness in the eyes
  • Itching sensation
  • Watery discharge
  • Swollen eyelids


The primary causes of itchy, watery eyes are environmental allergens. These include:

  • Seasonal pollen
  • Pet dander
  • Dust mites
  • Mold


To alleviate the discomfort of itchy, watery eyes, consider the following treatments:

  1. Over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops
  2. Prescription medications
  3. Avoiding known allergens
  4. Using air purifiers to reduce indoor allergens

Itchy, watery eyes can significantly impact your daily life, but understanding what’s causing your itching, teary eyes can help you manage and reduce these allergy symptoms effectively.

5. Hives or Itchy Welts on the Skin

person with hives or itchy welts on skin, allergy symptoms, close-up, medical illustrationHives, also known as urticaria, are raised, itchy skin patches or bumps that can appear suddenly. This skin reaction can be caused by many different allergens and is often uncomfortable but usually harmless on its own. However, it’s important to note that many people with hives also experience angioedema, which can be life-threatening.


  • Raised, red bumps or welts
  • Itching all over the body or in specific areas
  • Swelling around the mouth, throat, tongue, or face


Hives can be triggered by a variety of allergens, including:

  • Foods
  • Medications
  • Insect stings or bites
  • Latex
  • Pet dander


  • Antihistamines: These are commonly used to relieve itching and reduce the appearance of hives.
  • Avoiding known allergens: Identifying and avoiding the trigger can help prevent future outbreaks.
  • Topical treatments: Creams and lotions can provide relief from itching.

If you experience swelling around your mouth, throat, or face, seek medical attention immediately as this could be a sign of a more serious reaction.

6. Rash

person with skin rash and allergy symptomsA rash is a common allergic reaction that can manifest in various forms. Rashes can be red, swollen, and itchy, often causing significant discomfort. Different types of rashes can be triggered by allergies, including eczema, contact dermatitis, and hives.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is an itchy rash caused by direct contact with a substance or an allergic reaction to it. The rash isn’t contagious, but it can be very uncomfortable. Common culprits include soap, laundry detergents, and makeup.


Eczema is a chronic condition that causes the skin to become inflamed, itchy, and red. It can be triggered by allergens such as pollen, pet dander, or certain foods.


Hives are raised, with itchy skin patches or bumps that can be caused by many different allergens. While usually harmless on their own, they can be uncomfortable and may occur alongside more serious conditions like angioedema.

If you or someone you’re with is having a serious allergic reaction and has an adrenaline auto-injector (such as an EpiPen), you should use it immediately.

7. Shortness of Breath, Wheezing, or Coughing

person experiencing shortness of breath or coughing due to allergies

Chest Tightness, Wheezing, or Trouble Breathing (Allergic Asthma)

Asthma is a health condition where you have trouble breathing. In this case, asthma symptoms are triggered by allergens like pet dander or pollen. People with allergic asthma often have other symptoms as well, such as itchy nose, ears, or eyes.

Symptoms of Severe Allergic Reactions

Some of these symptoms can be signs of a life-threatening allergic reaction:

  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Tongue swelling
  • Cough
  • Throat closing
  • Wheezing (a whistling sound when you breathe)
  • Chest tightness and losing your breath
  • Feeling faint, light-headed, or “blacking out”
  • A sense of “impending doom”

When to See a Doctor

These symptoms can go from mild to serious within minutes. Serious symptoms include:

  • Skin rashes, itching, or hives
  • Swelling of the mouth, throat, and tongue that can make it hard to breathe or swallow
  • Shortness of breath, trouble breathing, wheezing
  • Stomach pain, bloating, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Uterine cramps
  • Mental confusion
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Feeling like something awful is about to happen

Shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing can be alarming symptoms that should not be ignored. If you experience these symptoms, it is crucial to seek medical attention immediately.


Understanding the top 7 allergy symptoms is crucial for identifying and managing allergic reactions effectively. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy eyes, skin rashes, hives, and even more serious conditions like asthma attacks and anaphylaxis.

Recognizing these signs early can help in seeking timely medical intervention and avoiding potential complications. Always consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. Stay informed and proactive in managing your allergies to lead a healthier, more comfortable life.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the common symptoms of allergies?

Common symptoms of allergies include a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, itchy nose, itchy and watery eyes, hives or itchy welts on the skin, rash, and asthma symptoms such as shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing.

Can allergy symptoms vary in severity?

Yes, the severity of allergy symptoms can vary widely. Some people may experience mild symptoms such as a rash or localized itching, while others may have more severe reactions like shortness of breath or anaphylaxis.

What causes hives or itchy welts on the skin?

Hives or itchy welts on the skin are often caused by an allergic reaction to certain foods, medications, insect stings, or other allergens.

How can you differentiate between a cold and allergies?

While both colds and allergies can cause a runny or stuffy nose and sneezing, allergies often also cause itchy eyes and nose, which are less common in colds. Additionally, allergy symptoms persist as long as you are exposed to the allergen, while cold symptoms typically resolve within a week or two.

What should you do if you experience shortness of breath due to allergies?

If you experience shortness of breath due to allergies, it is important to seek medical attention immediately as it could be a sign of a severe allergic reaction or asthma.

Are there any long-term treatments for allergy symptoms?

Yes, long-term treatments for allergy symptoms include avoiding known allergens, taking antihistamines, using nasal corticosteroids, and in some cases, undergoing immunotherapy (allergy shots) to reduce sensitivity to allergens over time.