Allergy: Various Types of Allergies and Their Symptoms

Allergy: Various Types of Allergies and Their Symptoms

here are numerous allergies that affect many people. Insect bites, pollen, food, or household dust - the list of allergens can go on. Here you will find brief information on the most common allergies and their symptoms. You will also find a list of the best clinics in Switzerlandwhere you can undergo allergy diagnosis and treatment.

About Allergy

An allergy occurs when the body excessively reacts to an allergen or "trigger" that is typically harmless to most people. Examples of allergies include:

  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Asthma
  • Eczema
  • Hives
  • Food allergies

Allergy symptoms range from mild to severe. The most severe type of allergic reaction is anaphylaxis, which can lead to death without immediate administration of adrenaline. Effective methods for treating or managing allergy symptoms are available for mild allergies.

Allergy Symptoms

Symptoms depend on the type of allergy but may include:

  • Swelling of the lips, face, or eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Red, watery, itchy eyes
  • Wheezing or constant coughing
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Swollen tongue and throat constriction
  • Headaches
  • Skin rash
  • Abdominal pain (insect allergies)
  • Vomiting (insect allergies)

Do not self-diagnose. Allergy symptoms can be common to many other conditions. It is important to consult a doctor or clinical immunology/allergology specialist for professional diagnosis and treatment.

Allergy Diagnosis

In the best top clinics in Switzerland conduct a comprehensive diagnosis to determine the cause of the allergy. A doctor can check if allergies exist and, if so, which ones, using specialized allergy tests. The patient is exposed to various allergens, and the body's reaction is observed in a controlled manner.

Common allergy tests include:

  • Blood test: The immune system produces specific antibodies (IgE antibodies) against suspected allergens, which can be detected in the blood. For some types of allergies, the immune system forms special protective cells, which can be detected by a lymphocyte transformation test.
  • Skin patch testing: Special skin patches with possible triggers are applied to the patient's back or forearm. If the patient is allergic to a substance, the skin will react with redness, swelling, or blisters.
  • Skin prick test: Similar to patch testing, the doctor places allergens on the patient's forearm's inner side and gently pricks the skin with a thin blade. If there is an allergy, redness, itching, or a rash occurs.
  • Intradermal test: Similar to the prick test, it is suitable for weaker allergens. They are injected directly under the skin on the back.
  • Provocation test: In cases of food allergies, a provocation test is often used. The patient inhales a small amount of the allergen, and the doctor measures lung function.

 Common Allergens

Substances in the environment that can trigger allergic reactions in susceptible individuals are called "allergens." There are various allergens, but all of them share one characteristic - they contain proteins. Some allergens may not initially contain proteins but can bind to proteins in the body, leading to allergic reactions.

Common allergens include:

  • Foods such as crustaceans, eggs, fish, milk, peanuts, tree nuts (e.g., almonds, cashews, pecans, and walnuts), sesame, and soy products.
  • Plants - pollen from grasses and plants.
  • Medications, including prescription medications (e.g., penicillin), over-the-counter drugs (e.g., aspirin), and herbal remedies.
  • Insects - such as dust mites, bee venom, tick bites, ant bites, and wasp stings.
  • Mold - spores from fungi and molds.
  • Animal dander - such as the fur and skin scales of pets like cats and dogs.
  • Chemicals - including industrial and household chemicals and latex rubber.

Food Allergies

Food allergy is a group of symptoms caused by the consumption of certain foods that trigger an excessive and abnormal reaction in the body. The development of food allergies depends on an individual's innate or acquired predisposition to produce immune proteins when exposed to food ingredients. The most common substances that cause food allergies are cow's milk proteins, chicken eggs, wheat, nuts, citrus fruits, seafood, and soy.

Food allergies manifest with various symptoms, primarily affecting the digestive system, such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and colic in infants. Skin changes like redness, itching, and hives can also occur. In severe cases, anaphylactic shock may develop, which is a life-threatening immune system reaction that requires immediate medical attention. The treatment of food allergies is primarily based on a diet, involving the exclusion of allergenic foods from the menu.

Inhalant Allergies

Inhalant allergies are caused by airborne microscopic particles, especially those like:

  • Tree, grass, and weed pollens (e.g., birch, poplar, oak, ragweed, alder, willow, nettle, and plantain).
  • Fungal spores and molds.
  • House dust mites, particularly species from the Dermatophagoides and Euroglyphus genera.
  • Animal fur, most commonly from cats, dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, and horses.

Depending on the time of exposure and the origin of allergens, they are categorized as external (seasonal) and internal (year-round). External allergens are encountered outdoors, such as in gardens or parks, while internal allergens are present in the home environment.

The most common symptoms of inhalant allergies include recurring nasal congestion, paroxysmal sneezing, nasal itching, throat irritation, repeated conjunctivitis, tearing, eye itching, breathlessness, dry and irritating cough. People with this type of allergy often experience frequent upper respiratory tract infections that are difficult to treat.

The primary treatment for inhalant allergies involves pharmacotherapy, using antihistamines to block the action of histamine, which is responsible for allergic reactions, and corticosteroids to suppress the body's inflammatory response.

If symptoms like breathlessness, wheezing, and difficulty breathing, especially during exhalation, occur, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional, as these symptoms could indicate the development of asthma. Asthma may require periodic or ongoing use of inhalation medications.

Contact allergies

Contact allergies result from direct skin contact with allergenic substances. This type of allergy is most often triggered by:

  • Dyes.
  • Metals like nickel, chromium, and cobalt (e.g., jewelry, coins, belt buckles, clasps, hooks, buttons).
  • Cosmetics (e.g., fragrances, preservatives).
  • Plastics (e.g., latex, plastic, polycarbonate, rubber, polyethylene).

Symptoms of contact allergies include skin changes such as redness, itching, peeling of the epidermis, rashes, hives, blisters, and sores. Due to the similar clinical presentation, contact dermatitis is sometimes confused with contact allergies. The treatment is primarily based on eliminating the allergenic factor. Proper skin care is essential, preferably using emollients (substances that moisturize and soothe the skin, alleviate itching, and reduce skin inflammation). Sometimes, pharmacotherapy with antihistamines, disinfectants, corticosteroids, and antibiotics for secondary skin infections may be necessary.


Cross-allergy refers to the development of identical or similar disease symptoms due to the action of an agent to which a person is not allergic, but which is structurally similar to an allergenic substance. Specific antibodies produced against one allergen may cross-react with other allergens. An example is the emergence of food allergies to specific products in people with pollen allergies. Here are some examples of cross-allergies:

  • Birch pollen - nectarines, apricots, apples, pears, cherries, kiwis, plums, carrots, potatoes, dill, nuts, almonds, and celery.
  • Ragweed pollen - apples, kiwis, celery, carrots.
  • Grass pollen - tomatoes, potatoes, melons, watermelons, oranges, peanuts.
  • Wheat - oats, rye, sesame.
  • Cow's milk - sheep, goat, mare.
  • Chicken eggs - poultry meat, duck, goose, turkey eggs.
  • Peanuts - soybeans, broad beans.
  • shrimp - lobster, crab, crawfish;
  • cod meat - herring, flounder, mackerel.

Allergies can have a wide range of triggers and manifest with numerous symptoms that are often underestimated or ignored. This diversity means that many individuals are unaware of their allergies. However, if allergic conditions are not diagnosed and treated in a timely manner, they can lead to a significant deterioration in health.

Therefore, early diagnosis allergy is essential, typically involving various stages that build on each other and complement one another.