Allergies are a tricky subject. It’s often very difficult to pin down exactly which allergens are causing certain symptoms, and because of this we tend to develop strong beliefs surrounding the subject. The problem is that many of these beliefs are myths that can lead to problems down the road.
I’m going to let you know which myths to watch out for, and teach you the real solution for dealing with nearly any allergy.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular allergy myths:
1. Raw, Locally Produced Honey
This one is a common belief. It suggests that if you consume raw, locally produced honey, then you’ll slowly build up an immunity to the local pollen allergens in the air. Unfortunately, the majority of seasonal allergies aren’t triggered by the pollen you’d find in honey. Although bees do tend to transport different kinds of pollen, it’s the pollen in the air that usually sets off your seasonal allergies. Most often, this pollen is from trees, grass, or weeds. Not flowers.
Most researchers consider this myth busted since there isn’t yet a study which clearly indicates that raw honey and allergy prevention are linked, and in fact most evidence seems to support that they aren’t. There are countless other health benefits to eating raw honey over processed honey, however. So if you enjoy the stuff, give this one a try anyway.
2. Antihistamines Versus Prevention
It’s sometimes difficult for people to believe that the only way to prevent allergic reactions is to stay away from them. We’re human, and so we inevitably want to believe that popping a pill will make all our problems go away. But take it from me: being human just means that we’re usually wrong. Antihistamines come with a host of side effects. These can include symptoms ranging from dry mouth and dizziness to constipation and bladder retention. Most often, though, you’ll find yourself drowsy.
It’s best to avoid the allergen altogether. Using antihistamines should be considered a temporary solution, as serious side effects may develop from constant use. Your best bet is to see an allergist in order to find out exactly which allergens are causing the reaction. Your doctor will also be able to prescribe more effective medication, or at least medication more suited to your own personal needs. Prevention will always be more effective than the drugs you use to combat these allergies. Be careful.
3. Food Allergies
Do you think you have a food allergy? Maybe you do, but maybe you don’t. If you have an allergy, then reactions will always occur when you come into contact with an allergen. This is because coming into contact with distinct types of food proteins will trigger your immune system to respond 100% of the time. Because these reactions are constant, certain food allergies can lead to very serious problems down the road. For example, celiac disease prevents your small intestine from absorbing nutrients due to an allergic reaction to gluten, and can cause a dizzying arraying of ailments, including malnutrition and cancer. It’s an extremely dangerous and underappreciated condition, and unfortunately only one of many. For more information on gluten and the dangers of celiac disease, check out my article called What Is Gluten Free Food? Gluten Free Myth vs. Fact!.
If the reaction only happens sometimes, then you probably have some sort of sensitivity to a specific type or food, or you may be mistaking the reaction for food poisoning. In order to be sure, you’ll need to give your allergist a list of your symptoms. It may help to keep a detailed food diary. Write down which foods you eat, when you eat them, when the reaction occurs, and the specific symptoms that occur. Bring this with you when you visit the doctor. It’ll make diagnosing the exact problem much, much easier, and maybe even save you an additional trip or two.
4. Pet Allergies
Believe it or not, if you’re allergic to cats or dogs, it’s not the hair that’s triggering the reaction. The allergy is caused by a specific protein found in the skin, urine, and saliva of those animals. The myth most likely persists because hair often traps and carries this protein. Because these pets shed, the protein will pretty much end up everywhere. Still, you’re better off with a short-haired animal since the hair will trap less of the protein and can be more easily washed. If you have an animal, groom it well, and keep its hair short if at all possible.
5. Organic Foods
One of the biggest myths is that consuming only organic foods will let you avoid certain food allergies. Guess what? That’s a big fat lie. First of all, labeling a food as “organic” doesn’t mean as much as you might think it does. You’d be surprised how often foods are granted this label without really qualifying. But even so, unprocessed foods account for around 90% of food allergies.
Therefore, if you have a food allergy, then organic versus inorganic won’t make much of a difference. If you notice that there is one, then you’re probably misidentifying the protein causing the allergy in the first place. Remember, there are many different parts to a food item. If you’re allergic to an apple, for instance, then there’s a good chance you’re allergic to either the skin or the meat but not both. In other words, skinning an apple might solve your problem.
One thing is for certain: Don’t listen to anyone who isn’t a doctor. If you’re looking for treatment or professional prevention tips, then ask an allergist for more information. They’ll be able to help you sort out the facts from the fiction, and they’ll be able to help you discover exactly which allergens are causing all of your ailments. For now, though, check out some great tips on how to prevent allergic reactions.
By all means, share your own stories. What other myths have you heard? Are there any natural remedies that have worked for you? Have you been dealing with a potentially life-threatening allergy? Let us know! If there are any other subjects you’d like us to cover, feel free to comment below! Thanks for reading!