6 Common Types of Allergies

Yvelette Stines, MS, MEd, is an author, writer, and communications specialist specializing in health and wellness.

Learn about our editorial processPublished on December 17, 2021Medically reviewedVerywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.byJurairat J. Molina, MD Medically reviewed byJurairat J. Molina, MD

Jurairat J. Molina, MD, is a board-certified allergist who has been practicing in field of allergy and clinical immunology for the past two decades. She owns Corpus Christi Allergy Associates in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Learn about our Medical Review BoardTable of ContentsView AllTable of Contents

Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the United States. It is estimated that over 50 million Americans are affected by some type of allergy. This condition causes the immune system to react or overreact to a foreign substance called an allergen.

Many foreign substances can trigger an allergic reaction, ranging from foods, medications, pets, and airborne particles inhaled through the lungs.

Depending on the allergy type and the severity of the reaction, the symptoms can vary from mild (coughing, itchy eyes, a scratchy throat, sneezing, hives, and a runny nose) to severe and at times life-threatening (triggering an asthma attack, trouble breathing, low blood pressure and even death).

Because reactions can be dangerous, it is important to know your triggers (and your loved ones') and recognize and respond to symptoms as necessary.

This article will review common types of allergens, the associated symptoms, and strategies for managing allergies.

What Causes Allergies?

Allergies are essentially a malfunction of the immune system. Most allergies are thought to be caused by genetics. Children usually inherit a tendency to develop allergies from their parents, not an allergy to a specific allergen.

Some of the common types of triggers of allergies include the following:

How Do You Know If You Have Allergies?

Types of Allergens

Any food can be an allergen. Depending on the food and the response of the body, the reaction may be classified as a food sensitivity or intolerance rather than an allergy. For instance, lactose intolerance is an inability to digest the lactose in milk rather than an allergy.

Symptoms of a food allergy may include itching, hives, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and swelling around the mouth.

The most common food allergies are the following:

From A to Z: Learn How to Manage Your Food Allergies With Ease

True drug allergies are fairly rare. What many people think of as a drug allergy is actually an adverse reaction to a drug.

In a drug allergy, immune compounds called immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies react to the drug. Since the drug circulates through the whole body, it can cause allergy symptoms through the body. Symptoms may include hives, wheezing, shortness of breath, throat and mouth swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, or fainting.

If it's suspected that you may have a drug allergy, your healthcare provider can test to check for an IgE response to certain. Penicillin is the most common drug allergy, occurring in an estimated 10% of people.

How Penicillin Tests Diagnose Antibiotic Allergies

6 Common Types of Allergies

Latex is found in natural rubber products made from the sap of the Brazilian rubber tree. An allergic reaction can occur from both coming in physical contact with a latex product or from breathing in latex fibers.

Some products that contain latex include the following:

Symptoms of a latex allergy typically include swelling, itching, and redness after coming into contact with latex. If you are highly allergic, it's possible to have a more severe reaction to contact or even from a small amount of latex in the air.

Synthetic latex doesn't trigger the same reaction, so it's generally safe for those with a latex allergy to use.

It's normal to have a localized reaction, like itching, swelling, redness, or discoloration where the bite or sting occurred, but some people have an outsized reaction to the bites.

Stinging insects like bees, wasps, fire ants, hornets, and yellow jackets are most likely to cause an allergic reaction, and reactions can be severe. If you do have an allergic reaction, it can be life-threatening, so it's important seek medical attention right away.

Early symptoms may include the following:

The most common allergy triggers are tiny particles found in indoor and outdoor air. When these particles are breathed in, they can cause inflammation and swelling of the nasal passageways and the delicate tissue around eyes. This, in turn, causes symptoms commonly associated with allergies, such as itchy, watery eyes, congestion, runny nose, and sneezing.

Common airborne allergens include:

Skin allergies are more common in people with sensitive skin and skin conditions like eczema. An allergic reaction may be triggered by chemicals in skincare products, detergents, and soaps, as well as contact with plants such a poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. Symptoms may include hives, inflammation, rash, and formation of dry, itchy patches.

Types of Allergic Reactions

An allergic reaction happens when the immune system reacts to an allergen. Reactions can be classified as mild, moderate, and severe, with symptoms as follows:

Identifying and Managing Symptoms

If you have known allergies, it is important to work with your healthcare provider to create a plan for managing your reactions.

If you suspect you have allergies, you can also talk with your healthcare provider about getting tested to confirm your triggers and create a treatment protocol.

In addition, there are other ways that you can keep your allergies under control:

Remember if you feel an extreme allergic reaction coming on, it is important to call 911 right away and wait for help to arrive. Driving yourself or someone who is having a severe reaction to the hospital may do more harm than good if you don’t have the proper equipment to help them on the way.

Telehealth for Allergies


An allergy is a malfunction of the immune system where the body overreacts to a foreign compound called an allergen. There are six main types of allergens: food, medications, latex, insects, airborne compounds, and skin. It's important to know your allergy triggers, especially if you experience severe reactions, so you can avoid them when possible and know when to seek emergency medical care if you have a life-threatening reaction.

A Word From Verywell

If you have allergies, know that you are not alone. There are treatments available to help manage your symptoms. However, it's also important to understand your allergy triggers and your body's response to know if and when you are having a dangerous reaction and can seek help immediately.

Living with a severe allergy can be scary, but your healthcare team can point you toward resources and additional tools to help you navigate life with an allergy and stay safe and healthy.

Was this page helpful?Thanks for your feedback!

Sign up for our Health Tip of the Day newsletter, and receive daily tips that will help you live your healthiest life.

You're in!

Thank you, {{form.email}}, for signing up.

There was an error. Please try again.

What are your concerns?4 SourcesVerywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.