Common Allergy Myths
May is Allergy Awareness Month, as it is the peak season for these conditions. With more than 65 million Americans dealing with allergies or asthma on an annual basis, it's no surprise there are several common myths circulating about allergies.1
Myth: Allergies and colds are the same
How many times have we heard someone say, "I can't tell if it's allergies or a cold," when referring to their springtime allergy symptoms? While both colds and seasonal allergies share symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, and congestion, they are very different.
Allergies occur when the immune system reacts to an allergen, and colds are typically caused by viruses or bacteria. Colds also typically present with a fever and body aches, whereas allergic reactions do not. Conversely, allergy attacks commonly present with other symptoms, such as itchy eyes, whereas a cold does not.
Myth: Hypoallergenic pets are not a cause of allergies
We have all heard that certain breeds of cats and dogs are hypoallergenic. While it is true that some breeds are easier on allergy sufferers, no pet is truly hypoallergenic. Pet fur is not an allergen, but it does collect allergens such as dust and pollen. The real culprits are dander, saliva, and urine. No pet doesn't have these characteristics.
How to reduce pet-related allergens
Some ways to reduce the amount of pet-related allergens are to limit pets' access to certain areas of your home (bedroom, bathroom), use a HEPA cleaner to reduce airborne allergens, bathe pets or use pet fur wipes after they've been outside for extended periods, and use allergy medications before symptoms develop.
Myth: Moving to another area will cure allergies
I have heard multiple people throughout my life say that they aspire to move to another area, such as the Southwest United States, to "get away" from allergies. I have lived in several different areas, such as the Midwest and South, and on the other side of the world entirely, and have always dealt with some kind of allergy.
While it is a nice thought, moving to another area may only improve symptoms for a few months. All regions have their own types of pollen and allergens. Unfortunately, there is no safe place to avoid allergies and asthma altogether. Although there is currently no cure for allergies and asthma, proper treatment of these diseases can minimize the limitations they impose on people.
Myth: Allergies are harmless
Another myth (possibly the most frustrating for me personally) is that they are simply harmless annoyances to be strong-armed through. Sure, many of us have to tough it out with mild to moderate symptoms that eventually improve through the seasons.
But it's important to know allergies are a legitimate health condition involving your immune system's response to something it considers harmful. They are not just a simple annoyance; they affect all areas of life.
Dispelling the myths about allergies
Without intervention, allergies can cause sleep and learning disorders, which can affect one's ability to perform at work or school. Furthermore, allergies can lead to sinus infections, and skin issues, and worsen asthma symptoms. Some food and drug allergens and insect bites can even cause life-threatening reactions.2
As someone who suffers from various allergies, it's important for me to dispel the myths surrounding them. By sharing our stories and experiences, we raise awareness and eliminate the stigma surrounding allergies and other chronic health conditions.
May is Allergy Awareness Month! Want to learn more?
When are you allergy symptoms the most severe?