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Be ready for a severe allergy emergency.

General Allergic Reaction


An allergic reaction is your body's response to an allergen. Allergens include medicines, food, insect stings, animal dander, mold, latex, chemicals, and dust mites. Pollen from trees, grass, and weeds can also cause an allergic reaction.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have a skin rash, hives, swelling, or itching that gets worse.
  • You have trouble breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing.
  • Your throat tightens, or your lips or tongue swell.
  • You have trouble swallowing or speaking.
  • You have dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, or confusion.
  • You have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal cramps.
  • You have chest pain or tightness.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Medicines may be given to relieve certain allergy symptoms such as itching, sneezing, and swelling. You may take them as a pill or use drops in your nose or eyes. Topical treatments may be given to put directly on your skin to help decrease itching or swelling.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.


  • Avoid the allergen that you think may have caused your allergic reaction.
  • Use cold compresses on your skin or eyes if they were affected by the allergic reaction. Cold compresses may help to soothe your skin or eyes.
  • Rinse your nasal passages with a saline solution. Daily rinsing may help clear your nose of allergens.
  • Do not smoke. Your allergy symptoms may decrease if you are not around smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can also cause lung damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.