Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year, according to the CDC. Allergies can generally not be prevented; allergic reactions can, if you know the source.
The definition of an allergy and an abnormal response to something that normally occurs in the environment. And the most reliable way to distinguish an allergy from a non-allergic condition is a skin or a blood test, Dr. Tania Elliott, spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI).
A general rule is: If the allergen is something you breathe in, your reaction will usually affect the eyes, nose and lungs. If you eat the allergen, the symptoms are likely to show up in and around the mouth, stomach and intestines.
If you’re allergic to food, you’ll probably have hives, redness, itchy skin, Dr. Elliott says. If it’s a severe allergy, difficulty breathing and throat closing are common. If the source is environmental, then you’ll likely experience itchy eyes, runny nose, and sneezing, she adds.