7 different types of allergies to be aware of

Medically reviewed by Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD on September 18, 2020. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.


There are many different types of allergies that can affect someone. Whether it’s a peanut allergy, a pet allergy, or a seasonal allergy, the list is long—and figuring out exactly what you’re allergic to can be challenging. (Fortunately, an allergy test kit may help you better understand what could be behind your allergy symptoms.)

Read this guide for a list of common allergies, what their symptoms are, how they’re tested for, and some possible treatment options.

1. Drug/medication allergy

Some medications cause an adverse reaction, such as an allergic reaction, as a side effect. A typical evaluation for drug allergies includes your medical history and any allergic symptoms that are present. It may also call for skin testing.

If you’re allergic to a particular medication, you may experience a skin reaction like hives along with wheezing, shortness of breath, throat and mouth swelling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping and abdominal pain, a drop in blood pressure, or even fainting. (Related: Can allergies cause shortness of breath?)

Rarely, in severe cases, a drug allergy may cause anaphylaxis—a serious, potentially life-threatening medical emergency that can include difficulty breathing and shock.

2. Food allergy

Food allergies are among the different types of allergies someone can experience. In the United States, some of the most common food allergies are milk allergy, peanut allergy, tree nut allergy, wheat allergy, and shellfish allergy.

These allergies occur when your immune system mistakenly sees a certain food’s compounds as harmful, resulting in an allergic reaction. Food allergies can come with a range of symptoms—including tingling or itching in the mouth; hives, itching or eczema; swelling of the lips, face, tongue, and throat; wheezing; diarrhea; nausea; dizziness; and anaphylactic shock.

Note that there’s a difference when it comes to food allergy vs. food sensitivity. Taking the Everlywell Food Sensitivity Test can help guide an elimination diet to discover your food sensitivities, but testing for food allergies typically requires the assistance of a healthcare provider.

3. Latex allergy

“Latex” is the milky sap of the Brazilian rubber tree. It’s used in a variety of everyday products, from condoms and balloons to rubber bands and bandages. People with latex allergies can have reactions by breathing in latex fibers in the air or when their skin comes into contact with it.

To diagnose a latex allergy, a healthcare provider may order a blood test to look for latex antibodies. They may also ask about your symptoms, which initially may include swelling, redness, and itching. People who are highly allergic may experience breathing issues and hives.

4. Pollen allergy

Of the different types of allergies someone can have, pollen allergies are some of the most common among adults. Pollen allergies, also known as hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis, are caused by dry pollen grains that frequently come from weeds, grasses, and trees.

If you have a pollen allergy, symptoms may include a runny nose, sneezing, itchiness, and/or watery eyes. (Related: Grass allergy symptoms)

Healthcare providers commonly use two different types of tests to diagnose a pollen allergy. The skin prick test involves exposing one’s skin to a possible allergen to determine how the body reacts to it, while a blood test measures antibodies that are produced in response to the allergen.

With a pollen allergy, limiting outdoor activities when pollen counts are high may help reduce symptoms. Washing bedding once a week and showering before bed to remove pollen from hair and skin also helps some allergy sufferers.

If you want to test for a pollen allergy from the comfort of your home, consider taking a blood test at home with Everlywell.

5. Pet allergy

In the United States, roughly 3 in 10 people who have allergies experience allergic reactions to cats, dogs, or other fur-bearing animals.

People with pet allergies may react to the pet’s urine, saliva, or dander (which is dead skin cells). Of the different types of allergies linked to pet dander, cat allergies are roughly twice as common as dog allergies.

It’s important to note that these allergens can live on surfaces like walls, furniture, and clothing for several months. They can land on the membranes that line your eyes and nose, which can lead to swelling and itching—and if a pet scratches or licks your skin, the surrounding area can become red.

Regularly brushing your pet’s shedding hair, keeping your pet clean, and frequently washing your pet’s toys are a few steps you can take to help manage symptoms and allergy-proof your home.

6. Insect and pest allergy

The most common stinging insects that cause an allergic reaction are bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and fire ants. Non-stinging pests, like cockroaches and dust mites, can also lead to allergies. With insects that sting, common symptoms include redness, itching, pain, and minor swelling. For non-stinging pests, the allergy sufferer may notice sneezing; coughing; itchy eyes, nose, mouth, or throat; and a stuffy nose.

7. Mold allergy

Allergies to fungi like mold and mildew are among the different types of allergies. Inhaling the spores (or seeds) of these fungi can lead to a reaction that’s common from July to early fall as the spores travel through the air. Like other allergy types, symptoms can include congestion, itching, and a runny nose. Skin and blood allergy tests can help determine whether you have a mold allergy. If you do, fixing any leaks in your home and using exhaust fans may help prevent symptoms.

Treatment options for allergies

A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cleaner and high-efficiency vacuum cleaner can reduce indoor allergens. Nasal sprays, antihistamines, bronchodilators, and allergy shots (known as immunotherapy) may also help to relieve symptoms. Of course, different types of allergies call for different types of treatment options, so talk with your healthcare provider to learn what you can do to manage your symptoms.


If you want to learn more about the allergies affecting you, take the Indoor & Outdoor Allergy Test—from the comfort of home—to check how antibodies in your blood react with 40 common allergens.


References

1. Drug Allergy and Other Adverse Reactions to Drugs. Publication. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. URL. Accessed September 18, 2020.

2. Food allergy. Mayo Clinic. URL. Accessed September 18, 2020.

3. Latex Allergy. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. URL. Accessed September 18, 2020.

4. Pollen Allergy. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. URL. Accessed September 18, 2020.

5. Pet Allergy: Are You Allergic to Dogs or Cats?. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. URL. Accessed September 18, 2020.

6. Mold Alergy. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Imunology. URL. Accessed September 18, 2020.

7. Insect Allergies. AAFA. URL. Accessed September 18, 2020.

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