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What are allergies?


An allergic reaction occurs when your body identifies a typically benign substance as a threat and triggers an immunologic response.  When that happens the substance is known as an allergen. Allergy symptoms range from mild to severe and typically affect your skin, respiratory, and digestive systems, although you may have other symptoms. For example, the common condition of hay fever is an allergy to pollen that causes a stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes.  Your body may be exposed to an allergen by touch, inhalation, or by ingesting it.

Lying in the Grass

Other common allergens include:

  • Insects

  • Mold

  • Dust

  • Milk

  • Peanuts and other tree nuts

  • Soy

  • Wheat

  • Fish and shellfish

  • Certain drugs

  • Latex


Some common allergy symptoms include:

  • Watery, itchy eyes

  • Runny nose and sneezing

  • Skin rash

  • Hives

  • Swelling

  • Redness

  • Stomach cramps and bloating

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting


The most severe allergic reaction is anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition characterized by chest tightness, wheezing, difficulty breathing, and other allergic symptoms.



Many over-the-counter medications are effective in treating allergies, especially those that are seasonal. There are also prescription medications that our clinicians can prescribe to give you relief from your allergies.


They can include:

  • Nose sprays to relieve runny noses

  • Antihistamines and decongestants to reduce runny noses, itching, swelling and congestion

  • Corticosteroid creams or ointments for rashes

  • Oral corticosteroids prescribed to stop severe allergic reactions

  • Epinephrine (ep-uh-NEF-rin), comes in a device (commonly called an epi-pen) that allows you to inject a shot of the drug within minutes of a life-threatening allergic reaction. Epinephrine auto-injector options are Adrenaclick®, EpiPen® or generic epinephrine.


In many cases, the only way you will know if you have a long-lasting allergy is to have an allergy test. If eating strawberries repeatedly makes your mouth itch, you should know if that is an allergy that may become worse. If your child breaks out in hives around the holidays, is it nerves or is it an allergy to a traditional holiday food? It’s important to know so that you can be vigilant in avoiding the cause of the allergy.

What should I do if I have an allergic reaction?

If you or your child are having an allergic reaction, come into Willis Urgent Care for immediate care. If you know what may have triggered the reaction, make sure to let your provider know. If you think your child or someone near you is in anaphylaxis, use their emergency allergy shot, known as an epinephrine injector, and call 911.


For more information on allergies, see the following websites:

Disclaimer: The links above are to sites independent of Willis Urgent Care. The information provided is for educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your doctor. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations regarding your specific medical questions, treatments, therapies, and other needs.

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