Food Allergies

Types of Allergies

There are four main sources, or types of allergies. By far the most prevalent are food allergies, followed by environmental factors in the form of inhalants, contactants and injectants. We will discuss each in more detail below. For now, let us define each of them. Food allergies are those reactions to food substances that you ingest or in some rare cases merely brush against or otherwise make contact. Inhalants are substances that enter your system through your nasal passages in particular, although persons who inhale through their mouths are also susceptible in that way. Contactants are substances that you touch, brush against, or that your skin contacts in fabrics or in other ways, usually causing a reaction in the skin. Injectants are substances that are introduced below your skin, such as insect bites or stings and some medications.

Most people faced with an adverse reaction to a food or other substance will identify it as an allergy. In fact, it could be a sensitivity, an intolerance or a reaction to a toxic or poisonous substance. Although the symptoms might be the same, the causes are somewhat different. An allergy is essentially an immune reaction, an intolerance is rather a sign that you are unable to digest a particular food and of course a toxic reaction is to a substance that is going to make anyone sick or in extreme cases cause death—cyanide gas, for example. As we discuss allergies, we will touch on these other conditions as well.

At the heart of the matter, allergies develop when a substance enters one of your essential bodily function systems that either does not belong there, or is there too often. Thus, there are three main types of allergies, roughly distributed as half food allergies and sensitivities and the rest ‘other’, or inhalants, injectants and contactants together.

Food allergies and sensitivities also fall into three major groups: those that are common to the very young because of immature digestive systems, those that develop over years of over-exposure, and those that are a result of ‘leaky gut syndrome’, wherein a compromised digestive tract allows partially digested food particles to enter the blood stream. As we will see, the latter can cause all kinds of havoc; however, let us take the three in order.