Allergy Symptoms

For some people, nasal allergy symptoms are mild. For others, they're severe. Anyone who has nasal allergies knows these common symptoms well:

  • Sneezing. The nasal mucosa membrane protects the inside of your nose against invasion by foreign substances. When something irritates this membrane, you sneeze. The sneeze is an attempt to expel whatever is causing the irritation.
  • Runny or stuffy nose. During an allergic response, chemicals are released that cause the vessels and glands in the area of your nose to become leaky. This releases mucus. These same chemicals cause the nose's blood vessels to enlarge. This leads to congestion.
  • Inflamed nostrils
  • Itching eyes, nose, and throat. Histamines and other inflammatory chemicals released during an allergic response act on the mucous surfaces of these areas, causing them to itch.
  • Allergic shiners. Dark circles under the eyes are a result of increased nasal congestion.
  • The "allergic salute." This is the upward motion children with nasal allergies often make. They rub their nose with the palm of their hand to ease their persistent itching nose. Some children "salute" so often it creates a crease mark across the bridge of their nose.
  • Watery eyes and swollen, red-rimmed eyelids. Called allergic conjunctivitis, this condition develops in as many as 3 or 4 out of every 10 people with seasonal allergies. They develop swelling, watering, and itching when allergens touch the membranes in and around their eyes.

Some people with nasal allergies also report the following allergy symptoms:


  • nasal voice
  • noisy breathing
  • snoring
  • chronic tiredness or fatigue
  • itchy skin
  • dry throat
  • wheezing
  • poor appetite
  • nausea
  • frequent headaches
  • difficulty tasting, hearing, and smelling
  • frequent nosebleeds
  • frequent sinus infections
  • frequent cough

If you have any of these symptoms, talk with your doctor.  See the next page for more information about allergies and allergy treatments.


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Written by Karen Serrano, MD

Emergency Medicine resident at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Reviewed by Lisa V. Suffian, MD

Instructor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Division of Allergy and Pulmonary Medicine at Saint Louis Children's Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine

Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, Saint Louis University

Board certified in Allergy and Immunology

Last updated June 2008