These Are the 5 Most Common Allergies in America

January 13, 2022

6 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports that approximately 50 million people in the U.S. suffer from nasal allergies each year, but what is the most common allergy?

Common allergens can range from seasonal, skin, and food allergies to animals, insect, and drug allergies. The most common allergies, however, are pollen, mold, dust mites, skin-related allergies, and food allergies. Although allergies cannot be cured, they can be managed by identifying triggers with allergy testing and working with your ENT to come up with a treatment plan. 

If you’re experiencing allergy symptoms, knowing the five most common allergies in America can give you the basic knowledge necessary to manage your allergic reactions.

5 common allergies in adults

1. Pollen

Pollen allergies, commonly referred to as “hay fever”, generally are the most common allergy issue for many people struggling with allergic reactions throughout the spring, summer, and fall. Throughout these seasons, plants of all kinds including trees, weeds, and grass release tiny pollen grains that get displaced by the wind. Once dispersed, the pollen can cause irritation in your eyes, land on your skin, and be inhaled when you breathe.

If you’re experiencing allergy symptoms such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, itchy ears, scratchy throat, or you feel unusually tired during allergy season, you are likely suffering from seasonal pollen allergies. On days when the Houston allergy count is high, staying inside and keeping your windows shut can help mitigate symptoms.

2. Mold

Molds are tiny spores that are commonly associated with discolored darkened areas of bathtubs, grout, walls, or floors although they can travel throughout the air and cling to fabric as well. Mold spores thrive in warm, dark, moist environments and can cause symptoms of allergies year-round.

When mold spores get into your nose, you may get symptoms such as nasal congestion, wheezing, shortness of breath, or worsening asthma. Regular cleaning and reducing indoor humidity are some of the ways you can decrease your exposure to mold spores.

It is impossible to totally eliminate all exposure to mold, nor is it necessary as some mold spores are completely harmless. But if you are consistently in an environment with toxic mold, it’s important that you find a way to either treat the mold or change your environment. Long-term, extensive mold contamination can cause some serious health problems.

3. Dust mites

Dust mites are microscopic, insect-like pests that like to hide in carpets, furniture, bedding, clothes, toys, and travel around on your pet’s fur. Aside from allergic reactions to them, dust mites live off of dead skin cells and are virtually harmless to humans. Interestingly enough, if you suffer from a dust mite allergy, you are not allergic to the mite itself, rather you are allergic to its feces.

Common symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, and coughing. Dust mites are nearly impossible to get rid of, but there are certain things you can do to reduce their effects such as washing your sheets in hot water, using allergy covers on your mattresses and pillows, and regularly dusting/vacuuming your home.

4. Skin allergies

When considering what is the most common allergy in America, skin allergies definitely make the list. Skin allergies are commonly triggered by touching certain clothing, plants like poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac, pets, insects like dust mites or cockroaches, chemicals, soaps, or substances. For example, one common skin allergy is an allergy to nickel. So, you may experience an allergic reaction like itchy, rashy skin if you wear jewelry with nickel in it. Another example is an allergy to certain ingredients in fragrances that may cause you to break out in hives if you use a certain perfume or laundry detergent. 

Most skin allergies are contact allergies and their symptoms can include skin inflammation, rashes, itchiness, eczema, and hives. To treat skin allergic reactions, you can apply calamine lotion, hydrocortisone cream, or take an over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamine to help reduce the inflammation.

5. Food allergies

What is the number one most common food allergy? For children, milk is the most common food allergy whereas shellfish takes the lead as the most common food allergy in adults. The top eight foods causing the most allergic reactions include:

  1. Milk
  2. Soy
  3. Eggs
  4. Wheat
  5. Peanuts
  6. Tree nuts
  7. Fish
  8. Shellfish

Food allergies affect about 32 million people in America and can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. That said, food allergies can be mild or severe, and getting tested is the best way to find out your level of sensitivity to certain foods. People with severe allergic reactions require epinephrine in the form of an “EpiPen” to treat the reaction.

Allergy symptoms

Symptoms of allergies can fall into two categories; an emergency allergic reaction and typical allergy symptoms.

Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include:

  • Swelling in your throat or mouth
  • Trouble breathing
  • Lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Bluing of your skin or lips
  • Loss of consciousness

If you or someone around you are experiencing any of the following, ask if they have an EpiPen on them and call 911 immediately.

Symptoms of typical allergies include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy eyes, nose, ears, throat, or skin
  • Chest tightness
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Hives
  • Rashes
  • Swelling
  • Stomach ache, digestive issues, and/or nausea from allergy drainage or ingested food

Is a headache an allergy symptom? YES! Headaches can very much be a symptom of allergies and are usually felt in the form of migraines or sinus headaches. If you’re experiencing chronic headaches or symptoms due to allergies, don’t wait to see your ENT. They can help you identify specific allergy triggers and develop a management or treatment plan.

Kaplan Sinus Relief offers lasting allergy relief in Houston

Now that we’ve answered what is the most common allergy and common symptoms of allergies, it’s time to discuss treatment options. After getting allergy tested, you can try at-home treatments including over-the-counter (OTC) nose sprays, eye drops, and allergy medications as well as keeping windows and doors closed and cleaning regularly. If those don’t work, it’s time to ask the ENT about options for allergy surgery, rhinitis and sinusitis treatments, or balloon sinuplasty.

Dr. Michael Kaplan of Kaplan Sinus Relief is here for you when standard allergy treatments aren’t cutting it. As the pioneer of balloon sinuplasty, he offers this quick, minimally invasive, in-office procedure for individuals looking for immense allergy symptom relief in the Houston area. 

Hear what our happy patient has to say about balloon sinuplasty for allergies:

Allergies can be an annoyance and even minor exposures can cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction. If you are experiencing symptoms of an allergic reaction, request an appointment to see how we can help you find lasting allergy relief today.

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