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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. An allergic reaction can range from mild to severe.

Common signs and symptoms:

  • Sneezing and a runny, itchy, or stuffy nose
  • Swollen, watery, or itchy eyes
  • Mild or severe skin itching or swelling
  • Swelling or pain where an insect bit or stung you
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing, a cough, or wheezing
  • A rash or hives
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy

Call 911 for signs or symptoms of anaphylaxis,

such as trouble breathing, swelling in your mouth or throat, or wheezing. You may also have itching, a rash, hives, or feel like you are going to faint.

Seek care immediately if:

  • You have a skin rash, hives, swelling, or itching that is starting to get worse.
  • Your throat tightens, or your lips or tongue swell.
  • You have trouble swallowing or speaking.
  • You have worsening nausea, diarrhea, or abdominal cramps, or you are vomiting.
  • You have chest pain or tightness.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

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

Treatment for a general allergic reaction

may include medicines 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. Epinephrine may be prescribed if you are at risk for anaphylaxis. This is a severe allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. Your healthcare provider will tell you if you need to keep epinephrine with you. You will be taught when and how to use it.

Manage your symptoms:

  • Avoid allergens. You may need to have allergy testing with your healthcare provider or a specialist to find your allergens.
  • Use cold compresses on your skin or eyes. This will help soothe skin or eyes affected by the allergic reaction. You can make a cold compress by soaking a washcloth in cool water. Wring out the extra water before you apply the washcloth.
  • Rinse your nasal passages with a saline solution. Daily rinsing may help clear allergens out of your nose. Use distilled water if possible. You can also boil tap water and then let it cool before you use it. Do not use tap water without boiling it first.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can make an allergic reaction worse, and 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.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

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

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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.

Learn more about General Allergic Reaction (Ambulatory Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.