The 13 Most Common Allergies

The most common causes of allergies are very varied. They can range from plants to food. Fortunately, controlling them is easy.
The 13 Most Common Allergies

Last update: 29 June, 2023

Allergic reactions are very common diseases that can occur at any time in life. They’re associated with an immune-mediated hypersensitivity response. Are you interested in knowing which are the 13 most common allergies?

In recent years, the prevalence of allergies has increased dramatically in developed countries. Studies affirm that allergic diseases affect more than 20% of the world’s population.

Why do allergies occur?

Allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to defend the human body from a generally harmless agent known as an allergen. Generally, the immune response is mediated by IgE-type antibodies.

The hypersensitivity reaction is responsible for the clinical manifestations, such as sneezing, itching, redness, and watery eyes. Similarly, allergies often affect the respiratory tract, skin, mucosa, and conjunctivae or generate a high-risk systemic response known as anaphylaxis.

For their part, the agents responsible for these conditions may vary from one person to another. Most allergens are proteins present in the environment and in various materials.

The most common allergies

At present, allergic diseases are one of the most frequent causes of primary care consultation. They’re conditioned by genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors of each person.

1. Pollen allergy

Pollen is a set of small and fine grains produced by some plants and is responsible for their reproduction and development. In most cases, these particles are released seasonally, remaining suspended in the air.

People allergic to pollen usually present a typical picture of rhinitis with sneezing, nasal congestion, itching, and eye irritation. Pollen allergy is one of the most common allergies in young children, especially during the spring.

In general, this condition is associated with pollen shed by plants such as grasses, banana trees, olive trees, and cypress trees. Some forms of prevention include avoiding open spaces with abundant plants and closing windows on windy days.

A woman sitting in a field, sneezing.
Rhinitis is the classic clinical presentation of pollen allergy.

2. Allergy to mites

Dust mites are tiny arthropods that accumulate on carpets, mattresses, pillows, sheets, furniture, and stuffed animals. They usually feed on organic matter and multiply in warm environments with a certain level of humidity. In the same way, the excrement and the remains of the mites contained in the dust act as triggers for the allergic reaction.

In general, the clinical manifestations vary from mild to moderate, with nasal congestion and sneezing being frequent. However, people can have episodes of asthma with respiratory distress in severe cases. For this reason, professionals recommend avoiding dust accumulation with routine household cleaning and adequate room ventilation.

3. Food allergy

Food allergy occurs when the body develops antibodies against the proteins contained in certain foods. This is generally one of the most common allergies in young children and is associated with family history. Some research states that food allergies occur in 2 to 7% of pediatric patients.

The protein in cow’s milk is usually one of the main allergens responsible for this condition. However, there’s a wide group of foods that can act as inducers of hypersensitivity reactions, among which the following stand out:

  • Eggs
  • Wheat and soybeans
  • Peanuts, peanuts, walnuts
  • Almonds and hazelnuts
  • Fish and shellfish

On the other hand, tingling and inflammation of the mouth, throat, and face are some of the most common symptoms of these types of allergies. Some people tend to have abdominal pain, vomiting, facial congestion, and shortness of breath.

4. Allergy to pets

Hair, dander, saliva, and even urine from some pets can cause allergic reactions in adults and children. In this regard, the body generates a hypersensitivity reaction to the proteins present in the dead skin cells and secretions of the pet. Expenses and dogs are primarily responsible for this reaction.

A runny nose, congestion, sneezing, and coughing are some of the most common respiratory symptoms of these allergies. Some people with contact dermatitis can develop hives.

5. Mold allergy

Mold is a type of fungus that usually grows in warm, humid, and closed spaces. It can be found on a wide variety of surfaces inside and outside the home. In this regard, the spores released by mold are responsible for the allergic reaction.

On the other hand, coughs, hives, itching, and watery eyes are some of the most common symptoms of these allergies. In addition, people with higher susceptibility may manifest shortness of breath and wheezing.

6. Allergy to insect bites

Insect sting allergies are one of the most common when doing outdoor activities. Generally, the insect inoculates certain toxins and antigens by biting the skin, which causes inflammation and stinging in non-allergic people. However, people with hypersensitivity can develop more severe symptoms.

Bees, wasps, and ants are the main agents responsible for these allergies. However, mosquito, horsefly, caterpillar, flea, and spider bites can also trigger hypersensitivity. On the other hand, the symptoms can vary from a local reaction with urticaria, pain, and redness, to a severe systemic response due to anaphylaxis.

7. Drug allergy

Hypersensitivity reactions are among the adverse effects of a wide variety of drugs. Studies affirm that these constitute 6 to 10% of allergy cases. 90% are predictable and dose-dependent effects.

Most drug allergies usually present with hives, rash, itchy skin, and eye irritation. In severe cases, people can develop epidermal necrolysis, respiratory distress, and anaphylaxis.

Some of the medications that cause this condition include the following:

  • Penicillins and cephalosporins
  • Sulfamides
  • Substances based on iodine
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Insulin

8. Allergy to cockroaches

Cockroaches, like mites, can act as powerful allergens. This is one of the most common allergies in urban areas. The American College of Allergies, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) recognizes that saliva, feces, and cockroach debris can act as stimulants for allergies and even asthma episodes.

Skin rash, cough, and nasal congestion are usually the most common symptoms in affected people. Similarly, clinical manifestations can become chronic in spaces infested by these insects.

9. Allergy to latex

Latex allergy is a hypersensitivity reaction that occurs when exposed to the proteins found in natural rubber latex. Latex is an elastic and rubbery compound obtained from the rubber tree. This substance is found in gloves, balloons, condoms, mattresses, toys, stethoscopes, syringes, and rugs.

The allergy usually occurs when coming into direct contact with latex-based products, producing the classic manifestations of contact dermatitis. In this regard, people often manifest hives, redness and intense itching.

10. Sun allergy

This is an allergic skin reaction that occurs when exposed to the sun’s rays for a variable period of time. Polymorphous light eruption is the most frequent form of presentation. It’s characterized by redness, itching, and pain in the affected skin area. In addition, people can develop skin blisters, scabs, and peeling.

This allergy can contain a hereditary component or be stimulated by exposure to certain substances. Medicines and plants can usually act as triggers for the disease. Prevention measures include using sunscreen and avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun during peak hours of radiation.

11. Allergy to cosmetics and fragrances

Chemicals in cosmetics and perfumes can act as powerful allergens. In this regard, these substances can be absorbed into the skin or penetrate through the respiratory tract. The most common symptoms of fragrance allergies are a stuffy nose, cough, and a stinging nose.

On the other hand, some cosmetics are associated with rashes, redness, inflammation, and itching on the skin. In the same way, they can act as stimulants of asthma and anaphylaxis episodes. For this reason, it’s advisable to test the products on the back of the hand before applying them to the face or neck.

12. Nickel allergy

Nickel is a light, malleable metal used in the manufacture of jewelry, zippers, buckles, coins, keys, telephones, computers, and electronic cigarettes. The hypersensitivity reaction occurs when the immune system recognizes nickel particles as foreign or harmful.

This is one of the most common allergies in women, especially in adolescence and early adulthood. It produces bumps on the skin, redness, blisters, itching and spots similar to a burn.

13. Allergy to plants

In some cases, the leaves and stems of certain plants can act as stimulants of a hypersensitivity response. This reaction is the result of the penetration and absorption of plant components through the skin. Some of the most common causes are nettles, legumes, chamomile, lime, parsnip, and spurge.

Nettle generates allergic reaction.
Nettles are plants that frequently cause skin allergies.

How are allergies treated?

At present, allergies don’t have a definitive cure. However, there are treatments that help control the symptoms.

Primary care measures for direct contact of the allergen with the skin include thorough cleaning and washing with soap and water. In cases of ingestion and inhalation, therapeutic options supervised by a professional are required.

Similarly, antihistamines are the most widely used drugs in the control of allergies. They suppress the release of histamine, which is responsible for generating most of the symptoms of hypersensitivity.

On the other hand, immunotherapy is another method used in the therapy against allergic reactions. This is based on inoculating purified allergens to adapt the system to their presence, reducing the severity of future conditions.

Most allergic reactions are usually mild, with a benign course if treated early. However, failure to provide timely care can lead to a worsening of symptoms and compromise people’s lives.

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