What to do for a cough caused by allergies

What to do for a cough caused by allergies

In many cases, the most effective way of managing an allergy is to avoid the allergen that causes the reaction whenever possible.

For example, if you own a food allergy, you should check a food’s ingredients list for allergens before eating it.

There are also several medicines available to help control symptoms of allergic reactions, including:

  1. decongestants – tablets, capsules, nasal sprays or liquids that can be used as a short-term treatment for a blocked nose
  2. lotions and creams, such as moisturising creams (emollients) – these can reduce skin redness and itchiness
  3. antihistamines – these can be taken when you notice the symptoms of a reaction, or before being exposed to an allergen, to stop a reaction occurring
  4. steroid medicines – sprays, drops, creams, inhalers and tablets that can assist reduce redness and swelling caused by an allergic reaction

For some people with extremely severe allergies, a treatment called immunotherapy may be recommended.

What to do for a cough caused by allergies

This involves being exposed to the allergen in a controlled way over a number of years so your body gets used to it and does not react to it so severely.


Common allergies

Substances that cause allergic reactions are called allergens.

The more common allergens include:

  1. insect bites and stings
  2. food – particularly nuts, fruit, shellfish, eggs and cows’ milk
  3. mould – these can release little particles into the air that you can breathe in
  4. grass and tree pollen – an allergy to these is known as hay fever (allergic rhinitis)
  5. latex – used to make some gloves and condoms
  6. animal dander, tiny flakes of skin or hair
  7. medicines – including ibuprofen, aspirin and certain antibiotics
  8. dust mites
  9. household chemicals – including those in detergents and hair dyes

Most of these allergens are generally harmless to people who are not allergic to them.


Symptoms of an allergic reaction

Allergic reactions generally happen quickly within a few minutes of exposure to an allergen.

They can cause:

  1. red, itchy, watery eyes
  2. wheezing and coughing
  3. a red, itchy rash
  4. sneezing
  5. a runny or blocked nose
  6. worsening of asthma or eczema symptoms

Most allergic reactions are mild, but occasionally a severe reaction called anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock can happen.

What to do for a cough caused by allergies

This is a medical emergency and needs urgent treatment.


Is it an allergy, sensitivity or intolerance?

Sensitivity

The exaggeration of the normal effects of a substance. For example, the caffeine in a cup of coffee may cause extreme symptoms, such as palpitations and trembling.

Allergy

A reaction produced by the body’s immune system when exposed to a normally harmless substance.

Intolerance

Where a substance causes unpleasant symptoms, such as diarrhoea, but does not involve the immune system.

What to do for a cough caused by allergies

People with an intolerance to certain foods can typically eat a little quantity without having any problems.

Sheet final reviewed: 22 November 2018
Next review due: 22 November 2021

No matter why it’s happening, a cough is always annoying—it’s noisy, it’s uncomfortable, and it never fails to garner unwanted attention.

But what’s really behind that cough?

What to do for a cough caused by allergies

Can allergies cause coughing—or do you just own an annoying cold?

Well, turns out, there are some beautiful distinct differences between allergy coughs and freezing coughs…


Just curious: Why do we cough, anyway?

«The purpose of a cough is to assist us,» says Monica Lee, MD, an otolaryngologist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear. It’s your body’s way of trying to expel something it perceives as a threat in the airway, she says.

Those perceived threats can be a bunch of diverse things: a piece of food stuck in your throat, pollen, air pollution, or swelling or drainage from additional mucus in your throat.

Every those things irritate the sensory fibers in your airway, which then stimulate a cough.

What to do for a cough caused by allergies

As for what exactly happens in your body during a cough? It’s helpful of complicated, says Dr. Lee. Basically, your vocal chords shut briefly to generate pressure in the lungs. Once enough pressure is built up, your vocal chords open back up, and air flows quickly through your voice box, which generates that coughing sound.

What to do for a cough caused by allergies

Kinda cool, huh?


What causes allergies?

Allergies occur when the body’s immune system reacts to a specific substance as though it’s harmful.

It’s not clear why this happens, but most people affected own a family history of allergies or own closely related conditions, such as asthma or eczema.

The number of people with allergies is increasing every year.

The reasons for this are not understood, but 1 of the main theories is it’s the result of living in a cleaner, germ-free environment, which reduces the number of germs our immune system has to deal with.

It’s thought this may cause it to overreact when it comes into contact with harmless substances.


Getting assist for allergies

See a GP if you ponder you or your kid might own had an allergic reaction to something.

The symptoms of an allergic reaction can also be caused by other conditions.

A GP can assist determine whether it’s likely you own an allergy.

If they ponder you might own a mild allergy, they can offer advice and treatment to assist manage the condition.

If your allergy is particularly severe or it’s not clear what you’re allergic to, they may refer you to an allergy specialist for testing and advice about treatment.

Find out more about allergy testing


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What to do for a cough caused by allergies