As more and more people seek to live healthy lifestyles and learn more about their health, the topic of allergies is sure to come up. Increased awareness is a positive thing, however there is a great deal of misinformation circulating that can potentially be very harmful to people.
Read on for information aimed at helping you make informed decisions about Myths About Common Allergies and your health.
Most people are getting health information from hearsay and the internet
According to allergist David Stukus, many people are being given misinformation about allergy triggers and lots of early medical beliefs have been proven incorrect as we learn more about allergies.
Stukus said at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) that an astonishing 72% of people turn to web for health information and may be receiving outdated information.
8 Common Myths Surrounding Common Allergens
Whether due to old wives tales, misunderstandings, or outdated information on the web, it seems that there are eight common allergy myths that persist today. By becoming aware of these myths, people can start to educate themselves about what is true and what is not when it comes to common allergens.
Flowers Are the Most Common Allergy Triggers – Most people mistakenly believe that flowers are the biggest allergy trigger. In reality, this is one of the biggest myths in medicine.
- The truth is that very few individuals suffer from allergic reactions to flowers.
- It is the pollen produced by trees, grasses, and weeds – transported by the wind and carried by the flowers that’s the real culprit aggravating most people’s allergies.
- Flowers basically just get a bad rap.
I’m Allergic to Animal Fur – Another popular misconception is being allergic to animal fur. Many people spend their entire lives believing that animal fur is one of their allergy triggers.
- Although some people do have pet allergies, most people are actually bothered by proteins produced in the animal’s skin, urine, and saliva and not the fur.
This leads us to the next medical myth.
Hypoallergenic Breeds Help With Cat or Dog Allergies – When America’s First Family was looking for a pet and searching for a hypoallergenic dog, they made national headlines. This helped exacerbate the misleading belief that there are “allergy-friendly” pets. Companies began promoting hypoallergenic breeds left and right. In fact;
- There is no such thing and every single pet secretes allergens.
- As previously mentioned, proteins produced in the animal’s skin, urine, and saliva cause irritation so it doesn’t matter if you buy an expensive, genetically engineered pet or if its hair is short or long.
I Can’t Eat Bread Because I Have a Gluten Allergy – This is another very persistent mistaken belief. Most allergic reactions to bread products actually stem from wheat. The sad part is that many people self-label themselves as having gluten allergy and avoid gluten, thus feeding into the craze for gluten-free foods.
- Experts refute this idea claiming there’s no such thing as an actual ‘allergy’ to gluten.
- There are only three disorders scientifically attributed to gluten: celiac disease, wheat allergies and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
- In reality Celiac disease—a true gluten allergy— is only present in about one percent of the population.
Artificial Dyes Cause Allergies & ADHD in Children – According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), only a certain subgroup of kids with hyperactivity or other behavioral symptoms will experience “small to moderate behavioral changes which may not necessarily be characteristic of an ADHD syndrome.”
In other words, there’s no scientific evidence linking exposure to artificial coloring with childhood allergies and ADHD.
Children Younger Than One Year Shouldn’t Eat Highly Allergenic Foods – Parents seeking to help their children avoid food allergies should actually investigate some of the cutting edge research indicating that early introduction of highly allergenic foods, like peanuts and eggs, may actually promote tolerance.
Vaccines Can Trigger Egg Allergies – There’s a persistent belief that people with egg allergies can’t get vaccinated because chicken embryos are used to grow viruses for use in many common vaccines.
- This is no longer true and it’s now safe for children to get flu shots and other vaccines which can help prevent serious illnesses.
Iodine Contrast Dye Can Worsen Shellfish Allergies – Many doctors believe that people with shellfish allergies should avoid iodine contrast since the iodine found in shellfish is also used in contrast dyes during computed tomography (CT) scans.
- According to allergist David Stukus, “This is false, and a shellfish allergy has nothing to do with the reaction. In fact, iodine is not and cannot be an allergen, as it found in the human body.”
By educating yourself about allergies and taking the time to separate fact from fiction, you’ll set the stage for improved health and better decision making when it comes to protecting yourself from allergies. Arming yourself with the facts helps prevent misdiagnosis. If you’re unsure of what’s happening with your allergies, the best option is to make an appointment with a board-certified allergist for accurate evaluation, testing, diagnosis, and treatment.
Michele Holincheck, FNP, works with Careworks Urgent Care. Careworks after-hours clinics offers a range of urgent care services in North America.