When most of us think about allergies, we pictured a red and stuffy nose, watery eyes, and a scratchy throat, but allergies can also appear in other forms. There are a number of lesser-known allergy symptoms that go beyond just a runny nose, or sneezing, and being aware of these symptoms might help you pinpoint when exactly you're experiencing allergies versus being sick. Everyone has different reactions to seasonal changes, and some of these might be more surprising to you.
"Often people mistake allergy symptoms for an infection that is viral or bacterial, since symptoms are the same or similar," Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist with the Allergy & Asthma Network, tells Bustle. "Moreover, they can affect multiple body parts, so people may not connect that it is all from the same underlying process. These body parts can change year to year as well, so this also throws people off. One year your nose may be affected and the following your lungs or skin."
If you have some unusual symptoms but aren't sure where they are coming from, it's possible they're coming from an allergic response. Here are six symptoms you didn't know could occur as a result of allergies, according to experts.
That throbbing in your head may be reaction to all the pollen in the air. Because allergies cause inflammation and swelling of the sinuses and nasal passages, this can produce headaches. "When this happens, there is an increased production of mucous, which then fills up your sinuses, which are otherwise empty cavities," allergist and internist Dr. Tania Elliot, tells Bustle. "This buildup of fluid leads to headaches."
2. Poor Quality Sleep
If you haven't been sleeping well lately, your allergies may be to blame. "When you are congested and have swelling in your nasal passages and respiratory system, it forces you to mouth breath and have interruptions in the quality of oxygen you receive in your sleep," Dr. Elliot says. "People with allergies wake up often, whether they realize it or not, and they wake up not feeling rested. Long-term untreated allergies is a risk factor for the development of a serious condition called sleep apnea."
Feeling spacey and out of it? Allergies might actually be the cause. "Allergies cause your immune system to work in overdrive," Dr. Elliot says. "Overall, they make you feel like you are not your best self, and with constant headaches and poor sleep, this adds up over time and contributes to fatigue and poor productivity. Allergies can make you feel like you are a constant zombie."
4. Wrinkles & Dark Circles
Allergies can also cause differences on your face that may be temporary, but were not that there previously. "Allergies lead to dilation of your blood vessels, which become visible underneath your eyes where the skin is very thin," Dr. Elliot says. "We refer to these as allergic shiners. You can also get a characteristic wrinkle in your nose from rubbing it frequently. If you see a horizontal line right above your nostrils, you likely have allergies."
Eczema is an allergic skin rash that is triggered by a variety of things, including weather changes and dryness. "What most people don’t realize is that the same airborne allergens that affect your eyes and nose very commonly cause eczema outbreaks in the skin, especially during high exposure to these allergens, such as during peak pollen seasons and from dust mite exposure," Dr. Parikh says.
6. Ear Pain
You might automatically assume that ear pain is an ear infection, but there's a good chance it could be from allergies. "It's usually pretty rare to get an ear infection past the age of four if your immune system is intact and you do not have other chronic medical problems that can lower your immunity," Dr. Parikh says. "Often ear pain/clogging is all due to the same allergens that clog your nose, as they are connected by the same tube."
They may not be the first symptoms you think of, but these reactions can sometimes be a sign of allergies. If they continue to bother you, talk to your doctor about how to alleviate your symptoms.