What You Need to Know About Allergies

Ask the Doctor

Peoria -

An allergy can manifest in any one of a number of ways, which include (but are not restricted to):

  • Stuffy, runny nose and teary eyes
  • Difficulty breathing, often with wheezing
  • Rash, often red, raised, very itchy, sometimes red and blistered, occasionally other appearances
  • Cardiovascular collapse ("anaphylactic shock")


Allergies are an over-reaction of the immune system to environmental substances.  Possible allergens include:

  • Pollens
  • Mold spores
  • Dust
  • Pet danders
  • Compounds in smoke, including tobacco smoke
  • Foods—peanuts, shellfish, milk proteins, gluten and many, many others
  • Medications
  • Chemicals—sulfites, preservatives, coloring agents, preservatives, finishers for plastics, some metals (especially nickel)
  • Insect stings and bites
  • Substances in plants, the best known being poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac, but many others


Treating allergy:

  • The best approach is to avoid allergens, if possible
  • Over the counter antihistamines may be enough; they include:
    • First Generation:
      • Brompheniramine (Dimetapp Cold and Allergy Elixir, etc)
      • Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton, etc)
      • Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine, etc)
      • Diphenhydramine (Benadryl Allergy, Nytol, Sominex, etc)
      • Doxylamine (Vicks NyQuil, Alka-Seltzer Plus Night-Time Cold Medicine, etc)
    • Second Generation:
      • Loratadine (Alavert, Claritin, etc)
      • Cetirizine (Zyrtec, etc)
      • Fexofenadine (Allegra, etc)
  • Intranasal steroids.  Generally used for the stuffy, runny nose and teary eyes. Over the counter are:
    • Fluticasone (Flonase and others)
    • Triamcinolone (Nasacort and others)
  • Those with allergies to insect stings, especially if there is a history of difficulty breathing when stung, should carry an epinephrine autoinjector: the reaction to the bite can be so fast that it can kill before emergency help can arrive
  • Allergic rashes can sometimes be handled by over-the-counter 1% cortisone cream
  • If these remedies do not provide adequate relief, prescription medication may be needed
  • If severe symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or loss of consciousness occur, an urgent visit to a medical provider is needed.

More Stories

Don't Miss

Latest News

Video Center