Doctors Share 14 of the Craziest Things People Believe About Allergies

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Perhaps it’s not a surprise that there are so many myths floating around about allergies and how to deal with them. After all, studies suggest that close to half of Americans suffer from one kind or another, and they can range from a mild inconvenience to a regular annoyance to a potentially deadly complication.

I have a peanut allergy, which is fairly easy to control as an adult. My husband and son have seasonal allergies, which I almost think is harder since you can’t control the blooming trees!

If you or someone you love suffers in one way or another, it’s likely that you’re always on the lookout for ways to feel better – but according to doctors, these 14 popular beliefs just aren’t true.

14. You’re more likely to be allergic to milk replacements than cow’s milk.

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“Many people will stop eating dairy foods, especially milk, thinking it is responsible for their nasal or sinus congestion and will assume they’re allergic to dairy. While it’s true that some people do have a real milk allergy, it is rare and must be confirmed by a test.

It’s more common to see patients allergic to soy milk, which they use as a replacement for dairy.”

Murray Grossan, MD, author of The Whole Body Approach to Allergy and Sinus Relief.

13. That you can have dog allergies and still have a (hypoallergenic) dog.

“Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog or cat. It’s not the fur people are allergic to but the allergens that are released in saliva, sebaceous glands, and perian*l glands.

It is true, however, that some breeds are more bothersome for allergy sufferers than others.”

Bryan Martin, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

12. Those at-home tests are unreliable.

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“At-home blood allergy tests might be able to reveal sensitization, but being sensitized to a certain allergen, like milk, doesn’t mean you’re actually allergic to it.

These sort of at-home screening tests are not reliable and can often lead to misinterpretation, diagnostic confusion, and unnecessary dietary elimination.”

Bryan Martin, MD

11. Having an egg allergy means you can’t receive vaccines.

“Egg embryos are used to grow viruses for vaccines such as the flu so you may have heard that you shouldn’t get vaccinated if you’re allergic to eggs. But there is now a vaccine approved for adults that is completely safe for people with egg allergies.

It’s important to get vaccinated as it can help prevent serious illness.”

Bryan Martin, MD

10. You should actually give your baby “allergic” foods earlier, not later.

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“Many people believe that highly allergenic foods shouldn’t be given to babies but for most children, there is no evidence to support avoidance once they are past four to six months of age.

New evidence emerging on peanut allergy shows that early introduction of highly allergenic foods may actually promote tolerance and reduce the likelihood of an allergy.”

Bryan Martin, MD. 

9. It’s extremely rare to have an actual allergy to gluten.

“You can have a gluten intolerance, but it’s extremely rare to have a true gluten allergy.

Many people self-label as having gluten allergy and avoid gluten without any medical indication this is true or necessary.”

Bryan Martin, MD

8. They only cause symptoms like itching, sneezing, and coughing.

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“There’s a common notion that allergic reactions only cause symptoms like itching, wheezing, sneezing, swelling, or diarrhea and that they can be measured with a simple blood test or scratch test. I explain to my patients that there are at least four different types of allergies and three of them don’t show up on standard allergy tests.

Allergies can cause a very wide range of chronic symptoms, especially if the symptoms fluctuate in response to environmental changes or eating.”

Leo Galland, MD, author of The Allergy Solution.

7. That your seasonal allergies will go away with, well, a change in season.

“While some allergies are seasonal, it really depends on what a person is allergic to. Pollen allergies are seasonal—for example, tree pollen allergies peak in early spring, grass pollen soars in late spring, and ragweed pollen is highest in summertime. Unfortunately, many people have the pollen allergy “triple threat” and have reactions to all three pollen types. Some types of allergies go year-round.

I always recommend that my patients try to identify the times of the year their symptoms tend to occur, so they can take measures to decrease or even prevent those annoying allergy symptoms.”

Rob Danoff, DO, family physician and program director of the Family Medicine/Emergency Medicine Residency Programs at Aria Health.

6. Allergies aren’t serious.

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Seasonal allergies are not fun – here are some simple steps to take to give yourself or your little some relief. Do you have seasonal allergies? 🤧

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“Eczema or seasonal allergies can be very mild but they can also be symptoms of a genetic allergic condition that, with asthma, is called atopy. When you have eczema, allergies, and asthma together, this can lead to heightened immune responses to common allergens like pollen and food.

This needs to be treated and managed or it can cause serious problems.”

Murray Grossan, MD

5. Pills are your best bet to alleviate symptoms.

“Depending on the type of allergies and symptoms experienced, allergy products applied directly inside the nose may have better results than oral medications. Nasal steroids, for example, are often the most effective maintenance treatment for patients with allergic rhinitis and are particularly helpful when patients have nasal congestion. H

owever, you must use nasal steroids properly to get the best effect.”

Skye McKennon, PharmD, clinical assistant professor at the University of Utah College of Pharmacy. 

4. They only cause physical symptoms.

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“Allergies are very real and in some cases, potentially life-threatening. They are rooted in heredity and the environment. But the mind does play a role: Mental stress can precipitate or enhance allergic reactions and relaxation techniques can moderate them.

A person who is strongly allergic to roses, for example, may react to the sight of a plastic rose, demonstrating the involvement of the mind and the brain, but this relationship is not well understood.”

Morton Tavel, MD, clinical professor emeritus of medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, and author of Health Tips, Myths and Tricks: A Physician’s Advice.

3. You’re not actually allergic to mosquitos.

“While allergic reactions can occur with stinging insects like yellow jackets, hornets, honey bees, wasps, and fire ants, they do not occur with biting insects such as mosquitoes or chiggers. Mosquito bites cause local swellings (hives) that are itchy but they are not allergic reactions.

Use topical calamine or hydrocortisone ointment for itchiness and use mosquito nets and insect repellents to prevent bites.”

Chitra Dinakar, MD, director of FARE Center of Excellence at Children’s Mercy, Kansas City. 

2. You only need a blood test for screening.

“Allergen-specific serum testing (for IgE) is not a reliable screen for allergy and often leads to misinterpretation and false-positive results which in turn lead to diagnostic confusion and unnecessarily eliminating foods from a diet.

A negative test provides more useful information, providing evidence against such an allergy, but it also is not a failsafe.”

—Morton Tavel, MD

1. Allergies to artificial dyes aren’t a thing.

“Controversy exists regarding evidence for artificial coloring and behavioral changes in children, as well as dyes causing chronic urticaria and asthma but there is no scientific evidence to support a link between exposure to artificial coloring and allergies.”

Bryan Martin, MD

A few of these surprised me; the more you know!

Did any surprise you? Which ones?

It’s okay – you can admit it to us in the comments!