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The Most Common Allergens Globally – Are You at Risk When You Travel?

Allergies are a significant health concern affecting millions of people in the United States. They can range from mild irritations to severe, life-threatening reactions. Understanding the most common allergens can help individuals manage their symptoms and avoid triggers. This article explores the top 20 most common allergens in the United States, as well as some from Asia, Europe and Africa.

 1. Milk

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Milk allergy is one of the most common food allergies, especially in children. It occurs when the immune system mistakenly identifies milk proteins as harmful, leading to symptoms such as hives, vomiting, and in severe cases, anaphylaxis.

 2. Eggs

scrambled eggs.
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Egg allergies are prevalent among children and can cause reactions ranging from skin rashes to gastrointestinal issues. Both the egg white and yolk can trigger allergic reactions, although egg white allergies are more common.

 3. Peanuts

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Peanut allergies are notorious for causing severe reactions, including anaphylaxis. This allergy is often lifelong and requires strict avoidance of peanuts and peanut-containing products.

 4. Tree Nuts

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Tree nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, and cashews, are common allergens that can cause severe reactions. People with tree nut allergies must avoid all types of tree nuts due to the risk of cross-contamination.

 5. Shellfish

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Shellfish allergies, including reactions to shrimp, crab, and lobster, are common in adults. These allergies can cause symptoms like hives, swelling, and anaphylaxis.

 6. Fish

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Fish allergies are distinct from shellfish allergies and can cause severe reactions. Common allergenic fish include salmon, tuna, and cod. Cooking does not eliminate the allergenic proteins in fish.

 7. Wheat

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Wheat allergies are often confused with celiac disease, but they are distinct conditions. Wheat allergies can cause symptoms such as hives, asthma, and gastrointestinal issues.

 8. Soy

Photo credit: Dédé Wilson from FODMAP Everyday®.

Soy allergies are common in children and can cause reactions ranging from mild to severe. Soy is found in many processed foods, making it challenging to avoid.

 9. Sesame

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Sesame allergies are on the rise and can cause severe reactions. Sesame seeds and oil are common in various cuisines, necessitating careful label reading.

 10. Latex

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Latex allergies can cause reactions ranging from skin irritation to anaphylaxis. Common sources of latex include gloves, balloons, and medical devices.

 11. Pollen

Pollen on car.
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Pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds is a common allergen that causes hay fever. Symptoms include sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes.

 12. Dust Mites

Dust mites.
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Dust mites are microscopic organisms that thrive in household dust. They can cause allergic reactions such as sneezing, runny nose, and asthma.

 13. Mold

Mold on window.
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Mold spores can trigger allergic reactions, particularly in damp environments. Symptoms include nasal congestion, coughing, and eye irritation.

 14. Pet Dander

3 dogs.
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Pet dander, particularly from cats and dogs, is a common allergen. It can cause symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and asthma.

 15. Insect Stings

Bee sting.
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Insect stings from bees, wasps, and hornets can cause severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Immediate medical attention is often required.

 16. Medications

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Certain medications, such as penicillin, can cause allergic reactions. Symptoms range from mild rashes to severe anaphylaxis.

 17. Nickel

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Nickel is a common cause of contact dermatitis. It is found in jewelry, belt buckles, and other metal items.

 18. Fragrances

Perfume bottles.
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Fragrances in perfumes, soaps, and cleaning products can cause allergic reactions, including skin irritation and respiratory issues.

 19. Cockroaches

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Cockroach droppings and body parts can trigger allergic reactions, particularly in urban environments. Symptoms include nasal congestion and asthma.

 20. Sulfites

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Sulfites are preservatives used in foods and beverages. They can cause allergic reactions, particularly in individuals with asthma.

Common Allergens Vary By Region

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There are notable differences between the most common allergens in the United States and those found in Asia, Europe, and Africa. These differences are influenced by dietary habits, environmental factors, and genetic predispositions.

Asian Allergies

Royal jelly.
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In addition to the shellfish, peanut, milk, egg, and soy allergies we see in the U.S., Asian populations also see the following allergies fairly commonly: buckwheat, chestnuts, chickpeas, bird’s nest, and royal jelly. 

Allergies in Europe

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In Europe, the common allergens include those found in the U.S. as well as certain fruits and vegetables such as apples, hazelnuts, and peaches, all of which can be related to pollen issues.

Allergies in Africa

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Common allergies in Africa include peanuts, milk, dust mites, tree nuts such as cashews, pollen, mites, cockroaches, and foods common to the continent, such as pineapple, okra and mopane worms.

The Takeaway

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Allergies are a widespread issue that can significantly impact quality of life. By understanding the most common allergens and taking steps to avoid them, individuals can manage their symptoms and reduce the risk of severe reactions. Always consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice and treatment options.

While there are common allergens that overlap across different regions, such as milk, eggs, peanuts, and shellfish, the prevalence and types of allergens can vary significantly due to dietary habits, environmental exposures, and genetic factors. Understanding these regional differences is crucial for managing allergies effectively and tailoring public health strategies accordingly.

Allergies, Cold, Or COVID-19? How To Accurately Identify Your Symptoms

woman with cold and flu.
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Distinguishing between allergies, a common cold, and COVID-19 can be quite challenging due to overlapping symptoms. Understanding these differences is crucial for proper treatment and prevention. This guide will help you identify your symptoms accurately and provide tips on how to manage them effectively.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more important than ever to accurately identify respiratory symptoms. Whether it’s a seasonal allergy, a common cold, or COVID-19, knowing what you’re dealing with can help you take the right actions.

READ: Allergies, Cold, Or COVID-19? How To Accurately Identify Your Symptoms

Are You At Risk For Shingles? Expert Insights And Prevention Tips You Can’t Miss!

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Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is a viral infection that results in a painful rash. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus can remain dormant in the body and reactivate years later as shingles.

READ: Are You At Risk For Shingles? Expert Insights And Prevention Tips You Can’t Miss!

Science Tells Us What To Expect As We Age: Strategies For Thriving In Later Life

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that pertain to us all. Aging gradually alters people over decades, a long period shaped by individuals’ economic and social circumstances, their behaviors, their neighborhoods, and other factors. Also, while people experience common physiological issues in later life, they don’t follow a well-charted, developmentally predetermined path. Let’s take a look at what science has told us to expect. READ: Science Tells Us What To Expect As We Age: Strategies For Thriving In Later Life

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  • Robin Jaffin

    As the co-founder and managing partner of the digital media partnership Shift Works Partners, LLC through two online media brands, FODMAP Everyday® and The Queen Zone she has played a pivotal role in promoting dietary solutions for individuals with specific needs in the health and wellness industry as well as amplify the voices and experiences of women worldwide.

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