Allergy Types & Symptoms

An allergy is an immune response to normally harmless substances. So those sneezes, wheezes, or watery eyes may occur when your immune system overreacts to an everyday item. Nearly one in three adults and more than one in four children in the U.S. reported having a seasonal allergy, eczema, or food allergy in 2021.1,2 It’s easy to assume that certain symptoms may be due to an allergy, but it is important to note that they can also overlap with other causes. To obtain an accurate diagnosis, provide your general practitioner with detailed information about your symptoms, medical history, and results from an allergic sensitization test, such as specific IgE testing.

Need to better understand your suspected allergies and symptoms? 

mom and son watering plants during allergy season

Common Allergy Types

Common allergies can be divided into three main categories: food, indoor, and seasonal. And we can't forget allergic asthma, even though it's not a type of allergy (it's a related condition).

People can have different triggers and experience different symptoms of allergies. It's also important to note that an allergy symptom can vary in intensity from a mild runny nose to anaphylaxis, which is a serious, life-threatening allergic reaction.

doctor talking to patient

Food Allergies

In food allergy-related immune system reactions, the immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies in your immune system recognize an otherwise harmless food, like eggs, as a threat. The "big 9" of food allergens – the ones that cause the majority of reactions – are milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, fish, wheat, soy, and sesame.

charcuterie board at picnic demonstrating food allergies
dusting a living room to prevent indoor allergies

Indoor Allergies

Indoor allergies are often the cause of year-round symptoms. Your home is often thought of as a safe space, but there are plenty of allergens hiding inside – from possible mold in your shower to dust mites in your pillowcases. Some of the most common allergens include animal dander, dust mites, mold, and cockroaches.

doctor talking to patient

Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies (AKA seasonal allergic rhinitis or hay fever) are prevalent during specific seasons, like spring or fall. Pollen is usually at the heart of seasonal allergy symptoms, with tree, grass, and weed pollens as the most common culprits to trigger an allergic reaction.

tissues from different allergy types and symptoms

Related Condition

Allergic Asthma Common Symptoms

Asthma that is triggered or made worse by allergens is called allergic asthma. We know it’s not actually a type of allergy (it's a related condition), but allergies and asthma often go hand in hand. Exposure to allergens — like pollen, pet dander, and mold — may increase symptoms and bring on an asthma attack in people with allergic asthma.3

Common Allergy Symptoms

Allergy symptoms can differ from person to person. Some symptoms impact the respiratory system, some cause gastrointestinal issues, and others can impact the nervous system.

The most common allergy symptoms include:

Sneezing Stomach pain
Watery eyes Hives
Runny nose Itchy mouth or ears
Wheezing Swelling of lips, tongue, or throat

Allergy Testing and Management

Ready to find out if your symptoms are because of allergies or something else entirely? Specific IgE blood tests can help identify sensitizations to many common allergens. This test for allergic sensitization – along with your medical history and a physical exam – can help rule in (or rule out) allergens as the cause of your symptoms.

By identifying the specific substances that trigger an allergic reaction, your healthcare provider can tailor allergy treatment options and provide personalized advice on avoidance measures. This knowledge helps them to make decisions on prescribing appropriate medications, recommending allergen immunotherapy, or providing guidance on lifestyle changes to minimize exposure to allergens.

woman experiencing anaphylaxis from allergies

Understanding Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis caused by an allergic reaction is rare, but serious. Symptoms may include loss of consciousness, a drop in blood pressure, or severe shortness of breath. Anyone experiencing anaphylaxis should call 911 immediately.

group of friends that have managed their allergy symptoms on outdoor hike

Frequently Asked Questions

Anyone can be affected by allergies, but some people are more prone to them than others. Genetic and environmental factors play a role in a person's susceptibility to developing allergies. For children, allergies can develop for the first time at any point during their youth. It’s even possible some adults will develop allergies later in life.

Common allergy symptoms in children include:7

Common allergy triggers in children include:7

In addition, one of the most common medical problems children face is middle ear infection, also called otitis media. Allergies may play a role in ear infections, as allergic inflammation can cause swelling and congestion in the middle ear and eustachian tube.

While there is definitely overlap between allergy and viral symptoms, there are some key differences. For example, if you have a fever and/or muscle aches, that's a good indication it's not an allergy. Longevity can also be a giveaway. If symptoms last for multiple weeks, allergies are likely to blame. Check out the full comparison here.

Resources for Healthcare Providers


You have the power to improve the lives of patients with allergies. And we can help. Specific IgE blood testing gives consistently accurate results.

An accurate determination of one or many allergen sensitizations can help you create a personalized plan for managing symptoms, including comprehensive allergen avoidance advice and potential treatment options. Testing for allergies should be no different than testing for any other chronic condition, such as diabetes or elevated cholesterol.

Have questions? We can help. From test result interpretation guides to an allergen encyclopedia, we've got the resources you need.

Healthcare provider listens to patient describe their allergy symptoms
  1. Ng A, Boersma P. Diagnosed Allergic Conditions in Adults: United States, 2021. National Center for Health Statistics. 2023 Jan 26: NCHS data brief, no. 460. Available from:
  2. Zablotsky B, Black LI, Akinbami LJ. Diagnosed Allergic Conditions in Children Aged 0–17 Years: United States, 2021. National Center for Health Statistics. 2023 Jan 26: NCHS data brief, no. 459. Available from:
  3. Murray CS, Foden P, Sumner H, et al. Preventing Severe Asthma Exacerbations in Children. A Randomized Trial of Mite-Impermeable Bedcovers. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2017;196(2):150-158.