fall allergy myths

More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year, representing a cost of more than $18 billion annually.  In addition, allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. 


What causes allergies?

Allergies are caused by an overreaction of the immune system to certain substances. An allergen is any substance that causes an allergic reaction.

Many of these allergies are seasonal, caused by common allergens like pollen and pet dander. If untreated, allergies can lead to chronic conditions such as rhinosinusitis and asthma. 

Fall allergy symptoms are enough to make anyone miserable. Don’t compound your problem by falling prey to common allergy myths.

We’ve compiled some of the most common allergy misconceptions. Can you separate fact from fiction?


Quiz: Can You Spot the Allergy Myths?


1. Hypoallergenic pets are perfect for those who have allergies.

False.

Technically, there’s actually no such thing as a hypoallergenic pet. It’s not the animal’s fur that causes allergic reactions. The allergens are related to the pet dander, and these allergens are present regardless of how much –or how little—fur the dog has. Pet dander is the skin that flakes off of animals.

However, hypoallergenic breeds shed a lot less. This means that you may not have as frequent contact with the pet dander—but this doesn’t meant that the animal itself is hypoallergenic.


2. Local honey will “cure” you of allergies.

False.

There’s nothing wrong with putting a teaspoonful of local honey into your cup of tea, just don’t expect it to cure your allergy symptoms. While there is anecdotal evidence that local honey may help, these have not been duplicated consistently in research studies.

Pollen and other allergens travel in the wind, and ironically, the pollen you are exposed to during allergy season is very likely to be anything but local. Therefore, honey made from local bees is highly unlikely to help.

This also means that the relief people experience from local honey is likely the placebo effect. 

However, honey does have some good properties that will help you. It’s a natural cough suppressant and may even have anti-inflammatory effects -- just don’t expect it to “cure” your allergies.

Word of warning: do NOT give honey to children younger than age 1.  It poses serious health risks, including a serious form of food poisoning. 

 

3. Children can outgrow allergies.

Sometimes. 

While some children will outgrow their allergies, roughly half will still have problems with common allergens like pets, dust mites and pollen into adult life. It’s more important to work with an ENT—like those at Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose and Throat—who specializes in treating children. This physician (called an otolaryngologist) can monitor them throughout their childhood and even into adolescence and adulthood. 

4. Don’t bother getting rid of trees around your house. This won’t help you avoid allergens.

True.

Pollen is one of the main allergens that causes stuffy noses, sore throats and the classic “hay fever” symptoms. Many people mistakenly believe that getting rid of vegetation around their homes will reduce their exposure---but that isn’t necessarily the cases.

As mentioned earlier, pollen can travel in the wind, so the pollen that may be causing your allergies to flare up could have come from hundreds of miles away. 

 

5. Long-term allergy treatment (immunotherapy) always involves “allergy shots.”

False.

There are several options when it comes to immunotherapy. Sublingual immunotherapy doesn’t involve needles. This well-proven treatment is administered by placing drops of allergenic extract under the tongue. You can learn more about this service from Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose and Throat.

Conclusion: The best resource for reliable allergy information is your local ENT physician. 

There are simply too many unreliable sources of information out there. While a well-meaning friend may post the latest allergy “solution” on his or her Facebook page, its source may often be questionable. It is best to get the information from someone who has extensive knowledge of your health care history and is in a unique position to give you the care you need.

Your local Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose and Throat physicians can help you get to the bottom of what is causing your allergies and create a treatment plan tailored specifically just for you.

Want to know more? Check out these useful blog posts from our archive:

A Step-by-Step Guide to Allergy Treatment 

Is Your Home Hiding These Four Common Allergens?


Is Immunotherapy Right for You? Answer These Questions to Find Out


Four Effective Treatments for Children’s Allergies 

 


Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose, and Throat is the area's premiere physician-owned ENT practice with six convenient locations throughout Wake County. Our board-certified physicians have extensive experience in treating both common and complex cases to help adults and children alike. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us.

Sources:

Bauer, Brent, MD. “Honey for Allergies.” The Mayo Clinic.  Online. 

Centers for Disease Control. “Allergies.” Online. 

The Mayo Clinic. “Pet Allergy: Are there Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds?” Online.