Sometimes allergic reactions can happen when you least expect them to, and they can be very severe, even life-threatening. Recognizing the first signs of a really bad allergic reaction and taking immediate action with emergency medication can be crucial the difference in preventing a fatal situation. In the case of a severe reaction, known as anaphylaxis, every second can count, especially in the case of a child.

Read on to find out various ways to finding out if you’re having an allergic reaction.

Runny Nose

A pretty common sign, if your nose drips or stuffs within a few moments of walking outside, it’s usually a reaction to particles in the air you breath in, which can include pollen, mold spores, and chemicals such as cleaning materials and detergents. Usually this will subside after a few minutes, but if it persists, it can point to hay fever or something more complicated as well.


Sneezing is normal and happens all the time, but it could also be a small, early sign of a severe allergy. If it starts happening repetitively in bouts separated by a few minutes, sneezing could also be giving way to more serious symptoms.

Breathing Changes

You might have had something to eat or some type of medication, and suddenly feel like you can’t catch your breath or even start wheezing. These type of sudden, problematic breathing changes can often signal a severe allergic reaction and you need to seek medical attention immediately.

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Irritated and Watery Eyes

As normal as sneezing, various things can cause the eyes to get irritated, itch, or fill up with tears at times. While it may well be a mild reaction, for example springtime pollen, but it can potentially be something more serious as well, for example a drug allergy. Take note especially when you start a new medicine

What should I do if my child has a food allergy?

If you suspect that your child has a food allergy, ask your GP for advice before introducing that food. Some children have allergy to cow's milk and soy allergy, in these cases the GP can prescribe a special formula. To help manage any food restrictions more effectively, your GP may even recommend a dietitian.

Should someone with allergies avoid pets?

It is okay to keep pets in the home, unless a person is already allergic to them and has symptoms when exposed to the pet.

Itchy Mouth and/or Ears

This is typically a small and very early sign, and can happen especially as a reaction to a food you might have eaten. Keep an eye out for escalating and other signs as you continue to eat the food or start experiencing other reactions.

Swollen Lips or Tongue

Known as angioedema, your mouth, lips, or tongue can swell up as part of an allergic reaction. If your lips or tongue swells up often, you’ll need to get in touch with a GP so that they can pinpoint the cause of the issue and treat it.

Rashes on the Skin

No one likes itchy, irritating and painful rashes. Common household items such as chemicals, drugs, makeup, or even pet dander can result in an allergic reaction. While a mild rash will typically be resolved with basic treatment, it’s important to know why it happened and to avoid interacting with the substance in the future.


An advanced allergic reaction on the skin, hives are red, elevated and painful lumps that can appear to be scary as well. They can appear immediately on the skin as a reaction to drugs, chemicals, foods etc. When accompanied with wheezing or swollen lips, you need to get medical attention immediately.

Stomach: Vomiting, Nausea, and Diarrhea

If you’ve just had some food or taken a drug and your stomach reacts strongly shortly a while after, it can imply an allergy. Symptoms like nausea, cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea should not just be passed off as stomach bugs as they can quickly escalate as part of anaphylaxis.

Drop in Blood Pressure

While blood pressure can drop for a variety of reasons, a sudden drop can also signal an allergic reaction, especially if it feels like you are about to faint. You may feel weak all over or disorientated, and this medical condition warrants medical attention immediately.


Severe allergic reactions that quickly escalate and can result in fatal situations are known as Anaphylaxis. If it isn’t treated right away with first-aid or at the emergency room, it can mean trouble unfortunately. Serious symptoms include breathing issues, skin turning pale or blue, hives, vomiting, and even panic attacks. One way to detect anaphylaxis is that these can start within just a few minutes after you come in contact with the cause.

If you’ve experienced any of the above, it’s best to consult a GP to make sure you understand what the cause is and can avoid it in the future.

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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If in doubt, HealthEngine recommends consulting with a registered health practitioner.