Everything You Should Know About Allergy Treatment Myths
Allergy symptoms occur when the immune system overreacts to a normally harmless substance like pollen or pet dander. About 20 percent of the American population are affected by allergies, which have been increasing recently. There is no cure to allergy, the best way to control it is to avoid the trigger and use medication for symptom relief. You can also try immunotherapy, which is considered an effective long-term treatment. However, there are still a lot of misconceptions about allergy cures. Below, we will discuss 10 common allergy treatment myths.
#1: You can cure your allergy by moving somewhere with a dry climate.
If you have a dust mite allergy, moving to dry climate may help. This is because dust mites cannot survive in dry climates (when the humidity is lower than 40%).
However, other common allergens are present everywhere, including pollen from regional plants and allergenic cockroach. Animals also shed their hair everywhere. This means that your allergy symptoms will develop even if you move to a desert. It’s better to consult with your doctor about the ways to control the symptoms.
#2: You should expose yourself to allergens more to become desensitized to them.
This theory is based on a study published in 2008 in Greece, according to which exposing children with egg allergy to tiny amount of the allergen may increase their tolerance. However, this should be done only in closely monitored conditions, such as an allergist’s office, with a help of a specialist.
You should never try this at home. Doing so can make your allergy more severe and increases the risk of anaphylaxis.
#3: There are hypoallergenic pets that are not dangerous for people with allergies.
Short-haired pets are often considered hypoallergenic, but the truth is that truly hypoallergenic pets don’t exist.
If you have a pet allergy, you don’t just react to its hair, but its dander, saliva, and skin secretions. Therefore, all pets are potential sources of allergens.
Although there are some dogs that don’t produce allergenic proteins and certain breeds cause less allergies than others in some people, the reaction is still possible.
If you are pet allergic but want to get a puppy, you can look for breeders who let you take to take it home for a few days to take a so-called “test drive”.
#4: Allergy symptoms can be annoying, but they are not dangerous.
In fact, allergies can cause severe and even life-threatening reactions like anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be triggered by bee stings, peanuts, shellfish, and other allergens. The symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction include a severe drop in blood pressure and difficulty breathing because of the narrowed airways.
If you leave your allergy untreated, you may develop asthma, sinus disease, or chronic coughing, or in the worst case, untreated symptoms may lead to fatal consequences.
Statistics shows that about 6,000 people in the United States die ever year because of asthma complications, while asthma has been rising since 1980s.
Some people don’t take allergies seriously, especially allergies in children, as they consider this disorder as part of growing up process. However, this is a misconception that may be dangerous.
If you or your child experience the symptoms of an allergy, you should arrange a visit to an allergist as soon as possible. Minimized exposure to allergens and allergy medications can help to control the condition.
In most cases, allergies are triggered by pollen, dust mites and other allergens, including foods, medications, mold, pet dander, insect stings, and latex. The most common food allergens include peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish and shellfish.
#5: Childhood allergies will be outgrown sooner or later.
If you had an allergy in childhood, you may experience less allergic episodes when you get older. However, you will still remain allergic, because the allergy is part of your DNA.
Children with mild allergies have better chances to outgrow the sensitivity, but those with severe reactions are likely to have allergies for years.
Sometimes, people develop the first ever allergic reaction in adulthood, which is a result of genetics and environmental exposure. For instance, when you travel to a new place, you may be exposed to an allergy-inducing plant you didn’t even know about and experience a reaction for the first time.
#6: There are different medications for different allergies.
As allergic reaction is a result of your immune system’s hypersensitivity to normally harmless substances. The reaction of your body to an allergen involves the release of a chemical called histamine. Histamine is responsible for various allergy symptoms, including sneezing, nasal congestion, itching, and skin rash.
A popular allergy medication antihistamine blocks the effect of this chemical in the body, providing a symptom relief. This medication can be used for all types of allergies.
In case of allergic rhinitis, you can also use a steroid nasal spray or decongestants.
#7: Taking allergy medications can lead to a tolerance to them.
Tolerance to allergy meds used to be a problem with earlier antihistamines. However, the newer medications are more effective, and they act longer,
It is possible that your antihistamine becomes less effective against your symptoms, but this is mostly likely caused by environmental changes like changing seasons or moving to new place, rather than a tolerance.
In this case, you can try using a stronger antihistamine. But don’t change your medications without consulting with your doctor first.
#8: Breast-feeding helps to prevent allergies in a child.
Experts recommend breast-feeding because it help to protect a child from some viruses and infections. Through breast-feeding, a mother also passes antibodies from her body to her baby’s, which helps to activate the immune system earlier.
However, there is no scientific evidence of the effectiveness of breast-feeding against allergies.
In addition, a mother can pass on allergies to her child. If one of the parents has an allergy, the risk of an allergy in child is equal to 33%. If both parents are allergic, the child is at 75% risk of developing the same allergy.
#9: Milk allergy is common among adults.
Milk allergy is more likely to affect children, and they are often (not always) outgrown at some point. However, a lot of adults experience another condition known as lactose intolerance. It is different from an allergy, as it doesn’t involve the immune system and induce the release of histamine.
The cause of lactose intolerance is the lack of the enzyme lactase in the body, which is responsible for digestion of lactose – the milk sugar. As a result, a person develops bloating, stomach pain, diarrhea, and other related symptoms.
It is also possible for an adult to be both allergic to milk and intolerant to lactose. In these case, allergy and intolerance symptoms occur at the same time.
People with lactose intolerance only can drink lactose-free milk. But those with allergies should avoid any products containing dairy protein.
Some people notice developing nasal congestion after drinking milk, which is not related to allergies or food intolerance. The reason for such a reaction is not clear. If that is your case, avoid drinking milk when you have a cold.
#10: Cooking the food kills the allergens.
If you have a pollen allergy, especially to birch tree pollen, you are at risk of an oral allergy syndrome. If so, you may have reactions after eating some fruits and other foods that share similar proteins with pollens. Those include apples, pears, cherries, peaches, strawberries, as well as almond and hazelnuts.
One of the most common symptoms of oral allergy syndrome is itching of the throat, tongue, and mouth.
If you eat these foods cooked, you won’t have a reaction, because the heat helps to change the structure of the allergenic protein and make it non-allergenic.
However, if you have a food allergy, cooking will not solve the problem.