What Are the Most Common Allergies?
When an allergic reaction hits, you can feel miserable or experience serious complications. Allergies are very common around the world, and the symptoms range from mild to life-threatening. Mold spores, hay fever, a bee sting, latex gloves are among the most common allergies.
What exactly is happening when you have an allergic reaction? Your immune system goes on alert, ready to protect you from a harmless organism, mistaking it for an invader. The immune system then produces Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to fight the invader. These antibodies are released into the bloodstream, triggering the release of chemicals like histamine – all of which adds up to an allergic reaction.
The reaction can be felt in the nose, sinuses, lungs, throat, each, on the skin, or in the stomach. Some people get symptoms of asthma. A serious reaction called anaphylaxis is also possible, and it can be life-threatening – requiring immediate medical attention.
The 8 Most Common Allergies
1. Allergic Rhinitis (Hay Fever)
Seasonal allergic rhinitis is linked with pollen at various times of the year.
Hay fever symptoms are typical in the spring and fall. Indoor allergens such as dust mites, mold, cockroach particles, and pet dander can also cause a reaction. Doctors call this perennial allergic rhinitis as it's a problem year-round.
Plenty of people are also bothered by smoke and strong odors, or humidity in the air, or temperature changes. Allergic rhinitis triggers inflammation in the nasal lining, which heightens the sensitivity to these inhaled particles.
If you have allergic rhinitis, you might also be at risk for an eye allergic called allergic conjunctivitis. Asthma symptoms can be worse for people who suffer from both conditions.
2. Nonallergic Rhinitis
Some people have an allergic-like reaction without the allergies. Nonallergic rhinitis usually affects adults year-round, with runny nose and nasal congestion.
3. Mold Allergy
Although thousands of molds exist, only a few dozen different types are significant allergens. However, mold spores can easily become airborne and can be found almost everywhere. Because they are so small, mold spores may also invade the protective mechanisms of the nose and upper respiratory tract. This irritation can also cause problems for those with asthma.
When you inhale the mold spores, your immune system triggers symptoms include nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, aggravation of asthma, cold/flu-like symptoms, rashes, fever, shortness of breath, inability to concentrate, fatigue and occasionally lung infections.
The indoor mold allergens can cause allergies year round. That means keeping the source of mold under control, including damp basements and closets, bathrooms (especially shower stalls), places where fresh food is stored, refrigerator drip trays, house plants, air conditioners, humidifiers, garbage pails, mattresses, upholstered furniture and old foam rubber pillows.
Keep in mind that symptoms of mold allergy may be brought on or worsened by eating certain foods. If you are allergic to molds you may need to avoid the following: cheeses, mushrooms, dried fruits (such as apricots, dates, prunes, figs and raisins), foods containing yeast, soy sauce, vinegar, mayonnaise, other salad dressings, catsup, chili sauce, pickles, pickled beets, relishes, green olives, sour cream, sour milk, buttermilk, beer, wine, sauerkraut, pickled and smoked meats and fish, sausages, hot dogs, corned beef, pickled tongue, canned tomatoes and canned juices.
It's not just indoor mold; outdoor molds can also cause allergic reactions. Molds are the second leading cause of outdoor airborne allergies, with pollen being the first. Molds can be found in compost piles, cut grasses, wooded areas, fallen leaves, soils, debris and other moist surfaces.
4. Pet Allergy
Lots of pet owners have an allergy to their cats or dogs. The proteins found in the pet's dander, saliva, skin, and urine can cause an allergic reaction or aggravate asthma symptoms in some people. Also, pet hair or fur can collect pollen, mold spores, and other outdoor allergens.
While some pet-lovers go in search of "hypoallergenic breeds" of dogs or cats, there really is no such thing. The animal's length of fur or amount of shedding does not affect the allergic reaction.
In fact, it's not always necessary to give up a fact due to an allergy.
An allergist or immunologist can accurately diagnose your symptoms and develop a treatment plan to help manage allergy symptoms and potentially keep your furry friends.
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5. Skin Allergy
Irritated skin is caused by such factors as medications, infections, and immune system disorders.
Skin conditions are a very common type of allergy and can be treated by an allergist or immunologist.
Itching, redness, and swelling are common to most skin allergies. Skin allergies include:
- Atopic Dermatitis (Eczema): Children are most prone to eczema, including infants. Skin dries easily and is prone to irritation and inflammation. Food sensitivity might be a cause.
- Allergic Contact Dermatitis: This occurs when skin touches an allergen like nickel or copper in jewelry. You may develop red, bumpy, scaly, itchy or swollen skin at the point of contact.Poison ivy, poison sumac, and poison oak also cause allergic contact dermatitis. An oily covering on the leaves cause a red, itchy rash.
- Urticaria (Hives): Contact with an allergen or a food can cause hives, triggering swelling in the skin layers. Hives can also be triggered by non-allergic causes such as heat or exercise, as well as medications, foods, insect bites or infections. Hives are uncomfortable and sometimes painful, but are not contagious.
- Angioedema: Similar to hives, angioedema affects the eyelids, mouth or genitals. This is due to an allergic reaction to foods or medications.
6. Stinging Insect Allergy
After an insect bite, most people develop redness and swelling at the site. If you are allergic to stinging insect venom, you are at risk for the serious reaction called anaphylaxis.
Five types of insects cause the most serious reactions:
- Paper wasps
- Fire ants
Insect stings can cause a toxic reaction similar to an allergic reaction, with nausea, fever, swelling, fainting, seizures, shock and even death. A toxic reaction can happen after only one sting, but usually requires many stings.
7. Drug Allergies
Adverse reactions to medications are common, but everyone responds differently. One person may develop a rash while another may have no adverse reaction at all.
Medications most likely to produce allergic reactions:
- Antibiotics such as penicillin
- Aspirin and ibuprofen
- Monoclonal antibody therapy
An allergic reaction is most likely when you take the medication frequently. A reaction can also develop when the medication is rubbed on the skin or given by injection. Skin rashes, particularly hives; respiratory problems; and facial swelling are among the most common reactions.
Adverse reactions to medications range from vomiting and hair loss with cancer chemotherapy to upset stomach from aspirin or diarrhea from antibiotics. If you take ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors for high blood pressure, you may develop a cough or facial and tongue swelling.
If you think you might be allergic to a medication prescribed by your doctor, call your physician before altering or stopping the dosage.
8. Latex Allergy
Natural rubber latex is often found in rubber gloves, condoms, balloons, rubber bands, erasers and toys.
Latex allergies are common in people who are regularly exposed to latex products such as rubber gloves. That is why this allergy is most common among health care workers and people who have undergone multiple surgeries.
Allergic reactions to latex range from mild to very severe. Repeated exposure to the substance can increase the severity of the allergic reaction.