Ammr Al-Houssan, a general surgeon, explains the most common types of allergies.


He starts by explaining allergies, their symptoms, and their different types.

What are allergies?

Allergies are a hypersensitivity response to a substance that is usually harmless. They result from your immune system overreacting and releasing histamine. It causes inflammation in your body. Ammr Al-Houssan adds that allergies can be seasonal or perennial, affecting your skin, nose, eyes, throat, and lungs.

What are the possible symptoms of allergies?

The most common symptoms of an allergic reaction include skin reactions such as:

  • hives,
  • itchy skin or eczema,
  • nasal congestion and sneezing,
  • watery eyes, nasal swelling, and sinus pain.

Other symptoms may include headaches, fatigue, and asthma-like symptoms.

Common Types of Allergies

There are four common types of allergies: pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and mold. Ammr Alhoussan explains that we can also classify allergies as food or drug.

Food allergies

They happen because of an abnormal response by the immune system to a food protein. The immune system identifies the food as harmful and reacts to it with an inflammatory reaction.

There are different food allergies:

An IgE-mediated allergy (immunoglobulin E) occurs when a person’s IgE antibodies react to a particular food protein. It can be life-threatening because it causes anaphylactic reactions that can lead to death if you don’t have it treated promptly. And it causes more inflammation in the body.

Ammr Alhoussan says non-IgE-mediated reactions are typically not as severe as IgE-mediated reactions. They do not involve as much inflammation in the body.

An allergy immunotherapy treatment is available if you have severe allergies to certain foods. It involves gradually introducing small amounts of the allergen under medical supervision until your immune system becomes desensitized.

Drug allergies

Drug allergies are a type of allergy caused by the body’s reaction to certain medications.

A drug allergy is an adverse reaction that occurs when you take medication and have an allergic response. Ammr Alhoussan notes that the allergic response could be severe, life-threatening, or mild. Certain antibiotics often cause drug allergies, but any medication prescribed for you or your child can also cause them.

The severity of the allergic reaction will depend on how potent the drug is and how much you took. Many types of responses can happen with drug allergies. They include hives, swelling in your throat or mouth, wheezing, difficulty breathing, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Pollen allergies

Pollen is a plant’s male sex cells released into the air to fertilize female parts of the same or other plants. They cause pollen allergies when a person’s immune system reacts to proteins in pollen.

Pollen allergies can be seasonal or perennial, including sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and skin rash. Ammr Al-Houssan observes that cats, dogs, and horses may also have similar allergic reactions to pollen.

If you have been experiencing any of these symptoms for over three days, you may suffer from pollen allergies!

Dust mites

Dust mites are microscopic organisms that feed on the dead skin cells that humans shed. They thrive in a warm, humid environment, including mattresses, upholstered furniture, and carpets. They can cause allergic reactions in some people, including sneezing and watery eyes. Ammr Alhoussan says you can treat these allergies with antihistamines or allergy shots.