Virtual Care > Virtual Care: Allergies

What are Allergies?

Allergies are physiological reactions caused when the immune system reacts to a foreign substance (allergen) that has been inhaled, touched, or eaten by a person. Allergies are among the most common heath problems, with more than 50 million people afflicted with asthma, seasonal hay fever, or other allergy-related conditions each year.

Allergies can be triggered by:

  • Tree, grass, and weeds, pollens, plats, trees, ragweed
  • Natural rubber latex (protein)
  • Molds
  • Dust mites
  • Animal protein (dander, urine, oil from skin)
  • Foods
  • Medicines
  • Feathers
  • Insect stings
  • Cockroach droppings and body parts


Always consult a licensed health care provider for a diagnosis, but these common allergy symptoms will alert you to a problem:

  • Allergy symptoms vary by person.  Common symptoms of allergies
  • Seasonal or allergic rhinitis (nasal stuffiness, sneezing, nasal itching, nasal discharge (runny nose), itching in ears or roof of mouth)
  • Allergic conjunctivitis (red, itchy, watery eyes)
  • Atopic dermatitis or eczema (red, itchy, dry skin)
  • Urticaria (hives or itchy welts)
  • Contact dermatitis (itchy rash)
  • Asthma (airway problems, such as shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing)


Call 911 immediately if the victim has a reaction to an allergen and experiences trouble breathing or has a history of airway swelling (anaphylaxis).

Persistent allergy symptoms can be treated by a nasal steroid spray. For intermittent symptoms, take an over-the-counter, non-sedating allergy medicine such as loratadine or cetirizine.

Visit with a Virtual Care health care provider on the phone or online for help with your symptoms.