Top 5 myths about allergies

Top 5 myths about allergies

by Ashley Tan 13 Jun 2018

If you’ve ever tried using the Internet to demystify the curiousness that are allergies, you would likely have found yourself sucked into a black hole of confusion and misinformation. With there being a whole range of myths and misunderstandings, it can be difficult attempting to decipher what’s real and what’s not when it comes to allergies. To help debunk common misconceptions, here is a compilation of the top 5 myths about allergies that you would have likely heard of but are unsure of whether to believe.


1. Pet hair induces allergies

There are countless of times when you’ve likely heard someone proclaiming that they are unable to touch or come close to small furry animals because of their “allergy to pet hair”. But did you know that it’s not actually pet hair that causes allergies? Rather, it’s the saliva or proteins found in animal skin that are to blame. This means that shaving your pet’s coat isn’t going to solve the problem, as saliva and proteins will continue to stick to its skin, regardless of whether it is hairless or not. While there are some breeds of dogs that are touted as hypoallergenic, it’s important to know that no one breed is ever 100% allergy-friendly.


2. Allergies are permanent

While it is true that some allergies are lifelong ones which stay with you permanently, many people – especially those suffering from food allergies – do outgrow their allergies as their bodies become less sensitive with the passage of time. However, this doesn’t mean that you can simply assume that you will outgrow your allergy, especially if you suffer from a history of serious allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis.  


3. Honey is an allergy relief remedy 

It is a common belief that local honey can provide allergy relief, as bees tend to pollinate flowers that contain pollen associated with seasonal allergies. However, it is often difficult to determine the exact amount of such pollen that your honey comprises, which means that using honey isn’t the most effective allergy relief remedy if you’re looking for a treatment method that is fool-proof and works consistently. 


4. Symptoms that emerge after eating unusual foods are an indicator of food allergies

There’s a general perception that symptoms which emerge after consuming foods that one does not typically eat equates to an allergy to that specific food item. However, many food reactions are not actually due to allergies, but food intolerances. Food allergies are a reaction to certain food proteins, where the body produces antibodies as it mistakes these proteins as a threat. These antibodies then stimulate the production of a chemical called histamine, which results in symptoms including itching and swelling. Food intolerances, on the other hand, are generated because of the body’s inability to digest or metabolise certain foods, thus resulting in symptoms such as bloating and diarrhoea. It’s important to be able to distinguish the differences between an allergy and intolerance, so that you don’t mistakenly seek for the wrong treatment.  


5. Standing in close proximity to flowers causes allergic reactions

There’s a high propensity for us to blame the flowers we’re standing close to when our allergies flare, but it’s actually quite unlikely that the flower pollen is the real cause of our seasonal allergies. In fact, it is usually airborne pollens such as those from grasses, trees, and weeds that are dispersed by the wind which cause seasonal allergies and irritations, rather than extravagant flowers which rely on insects to disperse their heavy pollen grains. 


While this list offers some insight into helping demystify allergy myths that you either hold or have heard of, possessing this knowledge alone is insufficient – it is still important to take measures to help keep the allergies away, such as staying at distance from your neighbour’s cat or avoiding open fields where the presence of pollen might be more prominent. There are also natural remedies that include saline nasal rinses and using butterbur extract to reduce your allergy symptoms, as opposed to relying on anti-histamines constantly. However, when in doubt, your best bet would always be to visit your family doctor for a more accurate assessment of your allergy!