Many people are sneezing, wheezing and itching without the foggiest notion why. Others endure nameless aches and pains without so much as inkling that their problems may be allergy based. Yet it’s often easy to recognize the characteristic habits, complaints or physical signs of an allergy — if you know what to look for.

eye-allergy-watery itchy eyes

What to look for and how to figure out whetheror not you (or

any of your family) are allergic. And if you are help you focus on whether the cause is your diet, your environment — or both. As a first step, take the following quiz.

Allergy self-quiz

  • Do you have watery, itchy red eyes?
  • Do you habitually rub your eyes, nose or ears?
  • Do you have a stuffy, runny nose?
  • Do you get coughing spells followed by wheezing?
  • Do you breathe through your mouth?
  • Do you speak in a nasal tone?
  • Do you have a high-pitched, squeaky voice?
  • Do you constantly clear your throat?

At this point, you may be saying to yourself, this sounds more like a cold than an allergy’.

Well, some eye, ear, nose and throat allergies — like hay fever — can easily be taken for a hard-to-shake cold, especially in children and adults who frequently get colds. The difference? Colds usually last only a few days, then disappear.

If the sniffing and stuffiness linger, or if the ‘colds’ occur more than six times a year, you’re probably dealing with an allergy.

Here are some other telltale signs that could mean you have an allergy:

allergy shiners♦Allergic shiners are dark circles or bags under the eyes — a discoloration caused by swelling of tissues around the nose.  Occasionally, shiners will be accompanied by an annoying spasm of the eyelid,

♦ Long, silky eyelashes — inexplicably — often coincide with allergy.

♦ Gelatine like discharge from the corner of the eye is often part of hay fever.

♦ Frequent sties, cysts (chalazia) or tiny white scales along the lower edge of the upper eyelids can be marks of allergy.

♦ Facial grimaces — like nose twitching and mouth wrinkling — are common to people with nasal allergy. ‘Rabbit’ or ‘bunny nose’ contortions momentarily relieve itching .

A nose crease is a horizontal line across the lower third of the nose, where the soft, bulblike portion meets the more rigid bridge . Either an allergic salute or habitual rubbing produces this wrinkle.

The allergic salute — in which a person pushes the nose upward with the palm or heel of the hand — is almost a dead giveaway of a nasal allergy. The ‘salute’ is basically a reflex attempt to relieve an itchy nose or to free sticky nasal accumulations and let more air into the nostrils.classical_allergic_salute_2

Although many of those signs are accepted hallmarks of an inhalant allergy (such as that to pollen, moulds or pets), people who suffer from other types of allergies can have them, too. And there are also a number of other symptoms that can bother allergy sufferers of all kinds. For instance:

♦ Are you bothered by itching of the roof of your mouth or throat?

♦ Do you have ringing in your ears, perhaps accompanied dizziness?

♦ Is your hearing good at times, but poor at others?

♦ Do your ears frequently “pop”?

♦ Do you often experience a feeling of fullness in your head?

♦ Do you get headaches?

♦ Is your face very pale?

♦ Do your cheeks bloom in round, red patches, like blotches of rouge?

♦ Do you have pimples around your mouth and chin?

♦ Do you get rashes on your face, neck, inner elbows, inner wrists, hands or knees?

♦ Do you get hives?

♦ Do you have any other skin problems?

♦ Are your lips swollen and puffy?

♦ Do you have exquisitely tender spots, which tend to bother you off and on?

♦ Are your hands and feet cold?

♦ Are your fingers stiff and swollen, especially in the morning?

♦ Do you have unusual body, hair or foot odour that persists no matter how often you wash?

If you answered yes to any of the above, it’s quite possible you suffer a hard-to-pin-down allergy. Until now, you may not have even associated your difficulties with allergy.

`People often have symptoms of allergy that they don’t think of as allergy symptoms at all,’

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