Do you know the 11 most common allergies?

There are certain questions I get asked every day:  “what am I allergic to?”  “What are the most common allergies?”  “What is triggering my allergies?”

Of course, I’m an allergist so trying to find out the most common allergens is not an uncommon question for me.  But I am not everyone’s allergist, and a lot of people want to know the most common allergies.

Specifically, I’ve written this article so YOU, too, can know the most common allergies and, once we know the common allergens, I can help you answer the question “what am I allergic to?”


Answer to most common allergens
Ever wondered “What am I allergic to?” Here’s your answer!


Allergy Cause vs. Allergy Triggers

I recently wrote an article trying to explain the actual cause of allergies.  It was kind of a boring article (I’ll fix that later by adding cat videos) but the TL;DR was:  your immune system is the CAUSE of your allergies.


However, what is important to you (and almost everyone) is to learn the TRIGGERS of your allergy symptoms.

Knowing the difference between allergy causes and allergy triggers is important if you want a correct diagnosis and correct treatment.



First, get the right diagnosis

I know you want to jump into the most common cause of allergies, but consider these facts:

  • Only 33% of people with “allergy symptoms” have a diagnosis of true allergic rhinitis.
  • 1 out of every 4 people have an diagnosis of irritant rhinitis (also known as irritant allergies or non-allergic rhinitis)!
  • Irritant allergies which causes the SAME SYMPTOMS as true allergic rhinitis, but with different most common allergens!


You really need to know your correct diagnosis.  The most common allergies are different based on your diagnosis.


But the REAL reason the actual diagnosis is so important:

The correct diagnosis determines what medications I should choose to treat you.


If you are unsure of your actual diagnosis, take this 5 minute quiz and we can get you that answer first!

Quiz:  Find the Cause of your Allergies



Proper diagnosis leads to proper treatment

I am creating a whole series dedicated to properly treating allergy symptoms (email me if you want to know details of a particular topic before I have published the entire series).  But for now, the summary of treatment based on diagnosis is:


General Treatment for a diagnosis of Allergic Rhinitis:

To treat a diagnosis of allergic rhinitis, I need to use avoidance strategies and medications that affect your allergy immune response:

  • Identify most common allergies (download the full list here)
  • Avoid or reduce exposure to the most common allergens
  • Medications can include:
    • Antihistamines
    • Nasal steroids
    • Nasal antihistamines
    • Possibly leukotriene inhibitors
  • Consider immunotherapy
    • Sublingual allergy tablets
    • Allergy drops
    • Allergy shots


General Treatment for a diagnosis of Irritant Rhinitis:

To treat a diagnosis of irritant rhinitis (irritant allergies / non-allergic rhinitis), I need to use avoidance strategies and medications that calm down the nose’s surface / nerve response to irritants:

  • Identify most common irritant triggers (download the full list here)
  • Avoid or reduce exposure to your triggers
  • Consider starting a nasal saline / nasal wash
  • Medications can include:
    • Nasal steroids
    • Nasal antihistamines
    • Nasal anticholinergics
  • Possible structural evaluation
    • Consider CT sinus
    • Consider ENT involvement
    • Possibly even sinus surgeries
  • There is no role for allergy immunotherapy to the most common allergens



If you don’t have the right diagnosis, you will get the wrong medication pathway and bad advice for the most common allergies/triggers.

Note:  if you didn’t take the quiz to get the right diagnosis earlier, here’s another chance!


So what are the most common allergies / most common allergen triggers?

It’s FINALLY time to answer the question “what am I allergic to?”

It is important to identify the most common allergen triggers because if you’re able to remove or reduce exposure to the common triggers, you actually can get better control of your allergy symptoms with fewer medications.  So what are triggers?

Triggers are the identifiable substance or exposure that causes the allergy symptoms happen.


The Most Common Allergies / Most Common Allergen Triggers:

  • Tree, grass, or weed pollen
  • Molds (indoor and outdoor)
  • Pets (cats, dogs, mouse, gerbils, feathers)
  • Dust mites
  • Cockroach
a field of "what am I allergic to?"
Look at all these common allergens!
A dog and cat are adorable answers to "What am I allergic to?"
Two adorable most common allergens


The Most Common Irritant / Non-Allergic Triggers:

  • Strong smells, odors, perfumes
  • Wind or when the dust is blown by the wind
  • Temperatures
  • Cold air or dry air
  • Cigarette smoke / cigar smoke / any smoke
  • Sometimes pollution or air quality
Cigarette with smoke as a most common allergen
Cigarette Smoke is a common irritant allergen
Pollution and low air quality are common triggers of allergies
“What am I allergic to?” Possibly pollution / air quality.
"what am I allergic to" is often scents, smells, or perfume
Scents, smells, odors, perfumes are common irritants


As you can see, the most common allergies / most common allergen triggers are very different between allergic and irritant rhinitis.

DOWNLOAD the 11 most common allergies here!


Avoiding the appropriate triggers is the first step in treating a diagnosis of allergic rhinitis or a diagnosis of irritant rhinitis.



How do you avoid the most common allergies / most common allergens?

This is a fairly complicated topic.

I am currently writing a post (should be out in the next few weeks) about how to avoid the most common allergies / most common allergens, but you can email me if you want to ask tips and advice before the article is completed.



Putting it together:  your medical plan for your question “what am I allergic to?”

A good treatment plan for assessing the most common allergies should include all of the following:

  1. Get a correct diagnosis.
    • The quiz is a good first step.  But the diagnosis should be confirmed with either a scratch test or a blood test.
    • Feel free to ask me if you are unsure what is the next appropriate step.
  2. Once you’ve established the correct diagnosis, determine the most common allergies or irritant triggers (you can download the list here))
  3. Create (as best as possible) a common allergen / trigger reduction and avoidance strategy
    • This will help you feel better with fewer medications
    • It will also help you predict when you may need more medications
    • Ultimately, this give you more control over your allergy symptoms
  4. After you reduce the triggers, start medications based on the treatment for the correct diagnosis pathway.

I hope this does a better job of explaining the difference between the most common allergens / triggers and the underlying allergy cause.  It is not just an academic exercise but should be a part of a well-developed allergy symptoms treatment plan.

If you have questions, please ask and I will be happy to help.


Otherwise, leave a comment below if you have any tips or tricks for avoiding / reducing exposure to the most common allergies / most common allergens below.

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  • Kendall Ryder says:

    Knowing what causes allergies is a good idea so that you can remove those things from your life. If they are environmental factors like trees and other things, you can keep your distance during the months where they most affect you.

  • Lillian Schaeffer says:

    This is some great information, and I appreciate your point that proper diagnosis leads to proper treatment for allergic rhinitis. My son has been having some issues with congestion and things like that, so I think he might have allergic rhinitis. I’ll definitely look into taking him in to a professional so he can get properly diagnosed and treated. Thanks for the great post!

    • Dr. Webber says:

      You’re welcome. If you have any questions for your son or anyone else, please just let me know.

  • I didn’t realize that there were so many different kinds of allergies. I’ll make sure that I have my kids tested to see if they are allergic to anything. You can’t treat a problem if you don’t know it exists, after all!

  • I love that your first step for how to treat rhinitis, or any other potential allergy, is to get a correct diagnosis. I can see how getting a correct diagnosis of the cause of the allergic reaction would make it much easier to treat. I would also think that going to a medical clinic who specializes in allergies would be a good way to make sure you’re getting well qualified help.

    • Dr. Webber says:

      An incorrect diagnosis might result in improper treatment and a lot of money being wasted. A specialist certainly can help and I agree that an allergy specialist is the way to go.

  • Bernard Clyde says:

    There are a lot of different allergies out there that can make it difficult to diagnose what you are allergic to. It’s important that you find a qualified allergist who can help you identify what causes negative reactions in you so you can more confidently move forward in your life. Like you said, proper diagnosis leads to proper treatment.

  • Ridley Fitzgerald says:

    It’s interesting to learn more about allergies. It makes sense that getting a correct diagnosis is so important. I think I am allergic to cats, but I I’ll have to get a doctor to check it out.

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