There are many different types of allergies, all of which are put into four categories. Many people have at least one type of allergy, but humans can be allergic to a variety of substances. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI), allergies exist in many different forms, including cockroach allergy, drug allergies, dust allergy, eye allergies, and food allergies. Insect sting allergies, latex allergy, mold allergy, pet allergies, rhinitis, sinusitis, and skin allergies are categories used by allergists to help patients feel more comfortable if they suffer from any of these. Within each of these categories, there may be many other types of allergies that can affect you.
Four Groups of Allergies
Some allergists categorize allergies into these four main groups: outdoor allergies, indoor allergies, food allergy, and animal allergy.
Outdoor allergies are caused by allergens found in the environment, such as mold and air pollution. They often cause allergic rhinitis that includes red, itchy eyes, a runny nose, sneezing, itching in the mouth or on the lips, and other symptoms. As mold is inhaled in the form of microscopic spores, the nose, and upper respiratory tract are affected.
Other things in nature that can be allergens to some people are grass, weeds, pollen, and insect stings. One outdoor allergen that can cause anaphylaxis is a bee sting or other insect sting. Other outdoor allergies are usually simply very bothersome and uncomfortable. They are often treated with antihistamines that relieve some of the symptoms of upper respiratory allergy.
Many outdoor allergies also affect people when they are indoors, especially if the windows are open. Allergists frequently recommend that people with outdoor allergies keep their windows closed and use air conditioning to minimize the pollen from making its way inside. Dust and dust mites are common allergens that are indoors.
Keeping your home free from dust is one of the best ways to deal with this type of indoor allergy. Your allergist will probably suggest that you use plastic covers on your mattress and pillow and that you do not have carpeting in your home. Hardwood floors or tile do not allow dust to become embedded as it can be in carpeting.
Mold is indoors as well as outside, and can often be found in the bathroom, kitchen, or laundry area of your home. By keeping these areas as clean as possible and dry, you can eliminate a lot of mold from your home. Keeping windows closed is another way to minimize mold that can blow inside from your yard or outside area.
At the most basic level, a food allergy is an abnormal response to food. The body’s immune system reacts to the food as though it were a threat. The most common type of immune reaction is when the body produces a specific type of antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE).
The first time a person is exposed to the food, no symptoms will occur. But plenty is happening inside the body, preparing for the next exposure. During the second exposure, the body is ready. The food allergens bind to the IgE antibodies spread throughout the body. The binding then signals the release of massive amounts of histamine.
Many people are allergic to the protein in animal dander, feces, urine, and saliva, especially from cats and dogs. An animal allergy can cause the symptoms of an outdoor allergy and can become quite severe. It is sometimes possible to keep your pet if you find out that you have an animal allergy by keeping the pet out of your bedroom. You may also be able to tolerate the animal in large, open spaces like a living room or family room where the dander is not as concentrated as it is in a small room with the door shut.