There are hundreds of allergy myths bouncing around society these days and you’ve probably heard at least half of them. Following are 7 of the most common myths:
- Allergies can be Cured
- Food Allergies are Common
- Short-haired Pets won’t Irritate my Allergies
- Moving to the American Southwest will Cure my Allergies
- Hay Fever is Caused by Hay
- You can Outgrow your Allergies
- Flower Pollen is the Leading Cause of Nasal Allergies
Allergies cannot be cured. Sorry to those of you who were hoping for a silver bullet solution. Allergic reactions are triggered when a person’s abnormal immune system reacts to normally harmless substances. Allergies are caused by a mix of genetic and environmental factors, but nobody is certain exactly how or why. There are ways to treat, prevent and even desensitize oneself against allergy triggers, but we’re talking about an entire immune system here, not a simple sinus infection. See Is There a Cure for Allergies for more information.
Actually, it is estimated that only 1 to 3 percent of Americans have actual food allergies. It’s surprising, because these days it seems like everyone and their brother believes they have some sort of food allergy. However, research shows that one out of five people believe they have a food allergy when in reality they most likely have a food intolerance or a food sensitivity issue. What are the differences? As with any true allergy, a person’s immune system will view a normally harmless substance, such as nuts, milk, eggs, etc. as a harmful entity. It will then release chemicals to combat these invaders. This release of chemicals only happens when a person with a true food allergy consumes an allergen and, in these cases, the danger of anaphylaxis is a real possibility. Someone with a food intolerance or sensitivity may certainly feel like they are dying from gastric pain and vomiting, but since the immune system is not involved, there is no allergic reaction taking place. The bottom line is that if you believe you have a food allergy, confirm it with your doctor. You may just need to cut back on certain types of foods.
This is another myth mostly spread by people who do not suffer from allergies. A person who is allergic to pets is not allergic to the fur, but rather to a protein that is produced in the animal’s skin or saliva called animal dander. Cats tend to cause more allergy problems than dogs simply because they lick themselves more and spread the animal dander onto their coats.
Sorry, but packing up the family and moving to Phoenix is probably not going to help your allergies much. Areas in the American Southwest such as Phoenix may have less weeds and pollen producing trees than other areas of the United States, but there are many other plants there that produce pollen. People suffering from pollen-related allergies are likely to become sensitive to the different pollens in their new desert environment.
Hay fever is not caused by hay and is not a fever. Hay fever is just another name for allergic rhinitis which is another term for nasal allergies. Hay fever occurs when airborne allergens such as pollen, dust or animal dander is inhaled and causes your typical allergy symptoms such as runny nose, watery/itchy eyes, scratchy throat and cough.
Actually, the reverse is true. More people tend to grow into an allergy rather than out of it. It may appear to some people that they have outgrown an allergy simply because they have learned how to avoid the allergen triggers over time and it has become second nature. It is practically impossible to avoid all exposure to pollens, molds and dust and repeated exposure to these allergens year after year can lead to chronic allergy symptoms.
Have you ever heard someone say “I’m having a bad allergy day. Something must be blooming.”? In an ironic twist, all those pretty flowering plants that many people blame for their allergies are the least likely plants to trigger an allergic response. The pollen from flowers tends to be heavy and waxy and can only be transported by insects rather than the wind. In most cases, light weight tree pollens are the little devils playing havoc with your immune system.