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Allergy Myths

Allergy Myths

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As if suffering from an allergy isn't bad enough, many people plagued by allergies also have to sort out lots of conflicting evidence and erroneous advice. To set the record straight, here are some of the most common myths about allergies — the facts that debunk them.

Facts:

Allergies are a serious problem and should not be ignored. Untreated allergies have a significant impact on quality of life. Allergic rhinitis (hay fever) for example, results in poor quality sleep, fatigue and daytime sleepiness. Adults find it harder to think and function at work, suffer from greater absenteeism and more work-related injury. They are more irritable and moody than healthier people. Untreated allergies can also worsen other chronic respiratory problems such as asthma, sinusitis and skin disorders such as eczema and urticaria (hives). Some allergies to foods, drugs and insect stings can lead to a potentially life threatening reaction called anaphylaxis - a systemic allergic reaction which can be fatal, and could lead to death.

Allergy Myths

Facts:

Symptoms do exist and are measurable in some cases, potentially life-threatening - rooted in heredity and the environment, yet the mind plays a significant role in their behavior and emotions can trigger allergic reactions.

Facts:

Very few people have allergic reactions to a bouquet of beautiful blossoms. The pollens made by trees, grasses, and weeds are usually to blame. The pollen of flowering plants is large and sticky, does not blow very far, and requires birds and bees for pollination. Therefore, when people complain that scented flowers trouble them, it is usually due to chemical irritation from the perfume that makes them sneeze rather than the pollen.

Allergy Myths

Facts:

Allergic rhinitis (hay fever) may be triggered by wind-blown pollen in spring and summer, or by other allergens such as house dust mite, animal danders and mould spores all year round. Moving away from the source of allergen (such as interstate, or from inland areas to the coast) may temporarily relieve allergies. Unfortunately allergic people are also prone to developing new allergies, and often symptoms reappear within a few years with exposure to new plants, or other sources of allergen such as moulds or house dust mite.

Facts:

A dog may be a man's best friend, but not if the man is among the estimated 10 to 15 percent of the population that suffers from pet allergies. The allergen is a specific protein produced not in the animal's fur, but primarily in its skin and - a lesser extent- urine and saliva.

As the animal is petted or brushed, or as it rubs up against furniture or people, microscopic flakes of skin (called dander) become airborne. Since all cats and dogs have skin, there are no non allergenic breeds.

However, since short-haired pets have less hair to shed, they send less dander into the air, so are preferable for those with pet allergies. Dogs are half as likely to cause allergic reactions as cats, but if you're allergic to furry animals, the only no-risk pets are fish.

Facts:

If you are allergic to an animal, continuous exposure will not decrease your allergy. In fact, 1 in 3 people who are already allergic and exposed to indoor pets will become allergic to them as well over time.

Keeping indoor pets is also associated with asthma and the need for more medication.

If you are allergic to animals, sensitivity often worsens with ongoing exposure. The best way to relieve symptoms is to avoid the animal, minimize exposure to household pets by removing them from the home or at least keeping them out of the bedroom, have hard flooring and wash the animal regularly to reduce the amount of allergen they shed.

Facts:

Animal allergens, particularly cat and horse allergen can be carried on clothes. This may sensitize other people who do not have pets themselves and provoke symptoms in sensitized individuals.

Facts:

Limiting your diet to organic food is no guarantee that you'll avoid food allergies. In fact, some of the most allergenic foods are "natural," unprocessed foods: cow's milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soybeans, fish and shellfish. Combined, these foods account for up to 90 percent of all allergic reactions. Allergies are caused not by chemicals related to growing the food, but by proteins in the food.

Allergy Myths

Facts:

Even though effective treatments are available, there are currently no cures for asthma or allergies.

The closest thing to a cure for allergy is immunotherapy (desensitisation), which is effective for treating some allergies like allergic rhinitis (hay fever), asthma but not currently for treating food allergies. With appropriate diagnosis and management, however, most asthma and allergy sufferers will lead normal, active lives with little disturbance to their quality of life.

Facts:

Allergies can unfortunately last for many years. Asthma can also persist. Some children have asthma symptoms that improve or disappear during adolescence, whereas others will worsen. Those with severe or persistent asthma tend to remain much the same as adults. Even when symptoms disappear completely, they may return later on in life, particularly with infections or exercise.

Allergic reactions to cow's milk, soy or egg in infants often resolve by the time a child enters kindergarten, but others (such as peanut, or seafood) can persist for life.

Facts:

The greatest concentration of house dust mites and their allergenic faecal particles is in carpeted bedrooms and bedding and in houses where there are domestic animals, especially cats. Polished boards, or other impervious floor coverings, regular washing of bed linen and encasing mattresses and pillows in barrier encasing will substantially reduce exposure to dust mite allergen.

Although it will not eradicate the dust mite, vacuuming once per week will reduce the number of dust mites.

IND/04/17/ALGY/022/EXP 04/19