What are some common myths about allergies?

There are many myths about allergies. For example, allergic reactions to pets are usually caused by proteins found in skin, urine and saliva and not because of fur.

Another myth is that a shellfish allergy means that a person could be allergic to iodine radiocontrast. Specific proteins in the shellfish cause allergies, which are not found in iodine dye.

Often, adverse reactions to drugs are misinterpreted as allergic reactions, when in reality, fewer than 10% of drug reactions represent an allergic process.

Additionally, if a family member has an allergy to a certain class of drug, there is no evidence that another member of the family should have a similar reaction.

Understanding the reality behind certain myths may increase options to safely keep pets, enjoy foods, or receive important medications. If you have any questions about allergies, speak with your doctor.

Not everything you hear about allergies is true. There are a handful of myths. Fall for them and you might head down the wrong treatment path -- one that leads away from the relief you need. Common myths might also spur you to make ineffective changes to your environment or lifestyle. You should ask your family doctor or immunologist about any new medications, home remedies or lifestyle changes you've heard about before you try them.

Here are some common myths to ask your doctor about:

Myth #1: Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines and decongestants work as well as prescription ones.
Fact: Doctors can prescribe a wider array of medications than what you'll find on drugstore shelves, including potentially stronger anti-inflammatories and antihistamines with fewer side effects (e.g., drowsiness).

Myth #2: You should take medication only when you have symptoms.
Fact: Sure, antihistamines can help relieve symptoms after they start, but because they're designed to short-circuit allergy-inducing histamine, you really should take them before symptoms become full-blown.

Myth #3: OTC decongestants are addictive.
Fact: Not exactly. But when you use decongestant sprays for more than a few days, the effects wear off more quickly, so you need more medicine to get the same relief. Plus, using decongestants for longer than three consecutive days can sometimes cause rebound congestion.

Myth #4: You have to give up your pet.
Fact: Love your pet but hate your allergies? Immunotherapy (allergy shots) -- along with smart lifestyle strategies -- can significantly reduce your exposure to allergy-inducing pet dander. While this combo treatment may not work for all pet-loving allergy sufferers, it does work for many.

Myth #5: Moving to a dry climate will eliminate your allergies.
Fact: Arid, desert climates in the Southwest may not have many of the tree pollens found in the East and Midwest, but they do have a variety of allergy-triggering ragweed and grass pollens. Sufferers who move to the desert may trade one kind of trigger for another.

Continue Learning about Allergies

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Is There a Way to Prevent Allergies?
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How Can I Figure Out If I Have a Dairy Allergy?
How Can I Figure Out If I Have a Dairy Allergy?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.