Allergy reactions: Signs and symptoms

Allergy eyes

Recognising allergy reactions

Allergy symptoms, including hayfever symptoms, can include:1

  • Itchy, red or watery eyes
  • Nasal symptoms such as sneezing, congestion or runny nose
  • Skin reactions such as rashes, itching and hives

Severe allergy symptoms may even include difficulty breathing (anaphylaxis).1

Woman blowing nose

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis (AR), including hayfever, is defined as an IgE antibody‐mediated, inflammatory disease characterised by one or more of the following symptoms: nasal congestion, rhinorrhoea (runny nose), and sneezing and itching.2

In addition to these more obvious symptoms, there are a few other surprising symptoms that may be due to allergic rhinitis, namely:3,4

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Asthma
  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Bronchitis
  • Sinus infection
  • Depression
  • Sleeping problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Lack of exercise endurance

Sufferers may be unaware that untreated allergies can increase the risk for more serious diseases, such as anaphylaxis, asthma, sinusitis, altered mood, and cognitive impairment.3

Woman smelling flowers

Seasonal allergic rhinitis (SAR) vs perennial allergic rhinitis (PAR)

Allergic rhinitis (AR) can be either seasonal or perennial (i.e. year‐round) in duration.5

SAR and PAR can be distinguished based on the allergens that trigger symptoms, by how long the symptoms last, and by what time of year the symptoms occur at. 5

  • SAR patients react to outdoor allergens like fungal spores and pollens, which fluctuate throughout the year.
  • PAR patients have continuous or intermittent symptoms; they are affected by indoor allergens such as dust mites, house dust, animal dander, and mold.

There is evidence that PAR patients will require allergy medications throughout the year, while SAR patients will require allergy medications predominantly around pollen allergy seasons: late March to mid-May for tree pollen, Mid-May to July for grass and June to September for weeds pollen.6

  • Questions to ask your patient

    female clinician smiling
    1. What type of symptoms do you have?
    2. How long have you had these symptoms?
    3. When symptoms occur, how long do they last?
    4. Are your symptoms seasonal (come and go throughout the year) or do they last year-round?
    5. Do your symptoms occur when you are outdoors or indoors?
    6. Do your symptoms get worse when you are around pets? Do you have any pets?
    7. Do you smoke? Does anyone in your family smoke?
    8. Are your symptoms interfering with your daily activities or interrupting your sleep?
    9. What makes your symptoms better? What types of treatments have you tried?
    10. What allergy medication(s) are you taking now? Do these medications provide relief? Do they cause unwanted drowsiness or other adverse effects?
    11. What other medications are you taking, including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, and herbal supplements?
    12. What type of heating system do you have? Do you have central air conditioning?
    13. Do you have any other health conditions, such as asthma or high blood pressure?
    14. Are you having difficulty with your sense of smell or taste?
    15. What makes your symptoms worse? Better?
    16. How much can you modify your lifestyle to reduce your exposure to these allergens?
  • Allergy symptom red flags

    Clinician and patient

    Emergency care should be sought for the following symptoms:1

    • Skin rash which may include itchy, red, swollen, blistered or peeling skin
    • Wheezing
    • Tightness in the chest or throat
    • Trouble breathing or talking
    • If the mouth, face, lips, tongue or throat start swelling

Understanding allergies

Respiratory webinars

Respiratory Webinars

Access our webinar series.

Watch now

Learning lab icon

Learning Lab

Find out more in the learning lab.

Find out more

Management icon

Allergy reaction management

Learn more about managing allergy reactions and symptoms including nasal congestion, sneezing and itchy skin.

Find out more

Pack shot of Piriton Syrup and Piriton Tablets

Piriton Children’s Allergy Syrup and Piriton Allergy Tablets (chlorphenamine maleate)

Find out more about Piriton Syrup suitable from 12 months and Piriton Tablets suitable from 6 years.

Learn more & PI

Pirinase allergy spray pack

Pirinase Allergy 0.05% Nasal Spray (fluticasone propionate)

Find out more about Pirinase Allergy Relief Spray. Suitable from 18 years.

Learn more & PI

Image of Piri logo

Piriteze Hayfever & Allergy 10mg Film Coated Tablets, Piriteze Children's Hayfever & Allergy 1mg/ml Syrup (P) (cetirizine hydrochloride)

Find out more about Piriteze Syrup suitable from 2 years and Piriteze tablets suitable from 6 years.

Learn more & PI