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Allergy Symptoms

Allergy symptoms vary from person to person depending on the allergy they suffer from. Typical symptoms of allergies are:

  • sneezing
  • sinus discomfort
  • watery nasal discharge
  • tiredness
  • blocked, runny or stuffy nose
  • skin rashes or hives (red and sometimes itchy bumps on skin)

Recognising your symptoms

symptoms-hay fever

The terms hay fever and sinus infection have become catch-all terms for what are actually different and specific symptoms.

Rhinitis is the term for the symptoms produced by nasal irritation or inflammation. The nose reacts to irritation and inflammation by sneezing, itching, running or becoming blocked. If the effects last more than six weeks the condition is known as chronic rhinitis and is usually caused by an allergy. A shorter incidence is known as acute rhinitis and is usually caused by an infection or an irritation such as a common cold.

Studies estimate that more than 30% of people experience the condition at some point in their life. It takes two forms: intermittent and perennial.

Intermittent Allergic Rhinitis (seasonal)

symptoms-intermittent allergic rhinitis

People with intermittent allergic rhinitis, hay fever being the most common type, will experience their symptoms in the spring, summer and early autumn when the air is filled with pollen from trees, grasses or weeds, or mould spores.

When people with hay fever are exposed to pollen, the body releases a chemical called histamine which causes the runny nose, sneezing and itchy eyes associated with hay fever. Some people go on to develop late-phase symptoms characterised by a groggy blocked up head.

Perennial Allergic Rhinitis (all year round)

symptoms-perennial allergic rhinitis

People who experience their symptoms all year round have perennial allergic rhinitis and are usually sensitive to house dust mites, animal dander and mould spores.

Some people have both types of allergy with symptoms increasing during one season - usually summer due to the increase in the number of airborne allergens, such as pollen.

People with one allergy are more susceptible to developing others. Children who have eczema as babies often go on to develop asthma and later, hay fever.

As you can see, several of these are also symptoms of the common cold. So how do you tell them apart? Follow this handy guide to help you spot the difference!

Allergy Cold
Symptoms Sneezing and itchy eyes and all of these symptoms experienced at once Begins with a clear nasal discharge, turning creamy yellow or green over time. Could be accompanied by a fever
Duration As long as the person is exposed to the allergen ( and a few hours afterwards). 7-10 days.
Sneezing Rapid and in multiple sequence. Not as frequent.
Season Mainly from Spring to Autumn. More common during Winter
Mucus Thin, watery. Creamy, yellow or green.

Early and late-phase symptoms

symptoms-allergic reaction

Early-phase symptoms of an allergic reaction begin to occur within the first hour after exposure to the allergen and can last up to 8 hours.

They include:

  • sneezing
  • itchy nose
  • runny nose
  • itchy eyes
late-phase symptoms

The late-phase response takes longer and its effects can last up to 24 hours after exposure to the allergen, including:

  • nasal congestion and blockage
  • puffy, watery eyes
  • a blocked-up, groggy feeling

Late phase allergy symptoms can end up making you feel irritable and tired.