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March 15, 2010 at 12:19 PMComments: 1 Faves: 0

The Top 7 Allergy Myths

By Erin Froehlich More Blogs by This Author

Allergy sufferers are always on the lookout for an easy way to reduce their symptoms, but much of the advice we receive is more wishful thinking than cure. Which bits of wisdom are more myth than fact? These seven commonly accepted, but less-than-true, beliefs about allergies may surprise you!

1. An arid climate will improve seasonal allergy symptoms.

MAYBE. It depends on what you're allergic to. For example, allergies to dust mites are often worse in cold climates, as houses get less fresh air circulation and run heaters more often - increasing dust mite presence in the home. However, allergist Dr. Dalan warns, "You can develop new allergies wherever you go." While your move may reduce the effect a certain allergen has on you, arid environments have allergens of their own. You may very well find you've replaced one allergy for another.

2. Pets with short-hair are perfect for people with allergies.

MYTH. You may save yourself time with less grooming and vacuuming, but allergies? Not likely.  The problem is, your pet's hair is not actually the allergen that affects you. It's the saliva they use to groom themselves, and even hairless animals like the Sphinx cat will groom. It may also be their dander, urine, or the skin cells they lose every day. Says Dr. Katial, "If they're indoors, they still release allergens, hair or not."

3. Flowers are a leading cause of allergy symptoms.

MYTH. Outdoors allergies are caused mainly by wind-pollinated plants like trees. Most flowers require insects to transport their pollen in order to reproduce. While a person may be allergic to flowers, more typically, outdoor allergy sufferers are reacting to the floating pollen of trees and grasses.

4. Local honey will build allergy tolerance.

MYTH. The theory goes that because honey is created from pollen, and local bees use local pollens, ingesting local honey should build your tolerance to local plants over time. The problem is, as we just discussed, most outdoor allergy sufferers are allergic to wind-borne pollen, not the heavy, sticky pollens found in the flowers bees enjoy. So, unless you know for sure your allergies are caused by the local clovers, local honey won't do much good for your allergies.

5. Using the same allergy medication for an extended period will cause you to build a tolerance and your medicine to lose its effectiveness.

MYTH. Some of the earliest allergy medications may have had this problem, but these days this shouldn't occur. However, people will sometimes notice symptoms despite taking their medication. This is often due to a buildup of the allergen they are allergic to. 

While the medication may have worked before, extra allergens may require a higher dosage of medication. Keeping your home clean should help with this problem. Another confusing factor is the expectations people have of their medication. Antihistamines are good for itching, sneezing, and runny nose, but when it comes to stuffy sinuses, they don't do much. Try a hot bowl of soup or some spicy food when your head is stuffed.

6. Seasonal allergies can be outgrown.

MAYBE. The allergies you have are actually determined by your DNA, and since your DNA will remain the same throughout your life, your allergy will always be there. However, the symptoms you experience their number, frequency, or severity - CAN change over time. Often, people will notice that as they get older, their symptoms will improve. However, the allergy is not gone and that sensitivity will always be there.

7. Allergy symptoms start in childhood.

MYTH. While allergies are written in your genetics, you may not be exposed to a particular allergen until adulthood. A move to a new part of the country with its own plants, or the purchase of a pet you never had growing up, can reveal allergies you never knew you had.

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1 Comment

  • This blog contained valuable information that really helped me understand my allergies!!

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