There are four main allergens that can cause an unpleasant reaction when inhaled – they are dust mites, mold, pet dander and pollen. But how well do you really know your allergy facts? The internet is awash with misinformation, leading many to firmly believe things that are actually incorrect. To help you separate the facts about allergies from the fiction, we’ve decided to expose some of the most common airborne allergy myths. So let’s dive right in and set the record straight!
Myth 1: You can’t develop an allergy as an adult
It’s a widespread belief that allergies only appear during childhood and are then set in for life, but this is simply untrue. In reality, they can come and go – or get more or less severe – at any time. This is because what you are and are not allergic to is dictated by your immune system, which is constantly in flux. The mechanism by which allergies arise isn’t fully understood, but it’s thought they could be linked to exposure to allergens while the immune system isn’t functioning at full capacity, or to limited exposure for a period followed by heavier exposure.
Myth 2: Hay fever is caused by hay
We know, we should probably have advised you to sit down before reading this shocking revelation! Jokes aside, despite the misleading name hay fever is not caused by hay, which is livestock feed made by cutting and drying grass or other plant matter. So, what is hay fever then? Also known as allergic rhinitis, it’s a seasonal allergy that can be triggered by various tree, grass and weed species when they release their pollen into the air. The pollens from these plants are fine and powdery, making them much more susceptible to windborne travel than denser flower pollen.
Myth 3: Colds and allergies are the same
Allergy symptoms, like sneezing, coughing and a runny nose, can be similar to those for airborne viruses such as the common cold – but there are also differences, and the cause is not the same. This may seem obvious, but clearly not to everyone because there are genuinely people out there searching terms like “are allergies contagious” and “is hay fever contagious”! Other airborne allergy symptoms that are not experienced with a viral infection include itchy mouth, itchy eyes (known as allergic conjunctivitis) and irritability. Also, a cold only tends to stick around for a week or so whereas allergies can last a lifetime.
Myth 4: Hypoallergenic and short-haired pet breeds don’t trigger allergies
Many animal lovers hampered by a pet dander allergy seek out hypoallergenic breeds in the hopes that they can have a pet without experiencing allergy symptoms. But the unfortunate reality is that there are no truly hypoallergenic cats or dogs as they all produce and release dander, regardless of the length of their fur and how much they shed – although some breeds may be less likely to cause issues than others.
Myth 5: You can get rid of an allergy by moving house
Some people with hay fever have experienced relief from their symptoms when moving to a new region, leading them to believe that they have been cured of their pollen allergy. Sadly, this is not the case – what’s really happening is that the new area has different plants and therefore pollen types, giving them temporary allergy relief as they’re no longer surrounded by the plants they’re allergic to. Not only does the allergy still very much exist, but over time new allergic symptoms can develop in response to pollen types found in the new location that didn’t previously cause any issues.
Myth 6: Dust mites are only found in dirty, dusty homes
Despite the name, dust mites can actually be found in homes all over the world, regardless of how clean or dusty they are. These tiny bugs are a common trigger for allergic reactions, which are caused by waste that they release. Dust mites tend to hide out in soft furnishings such as bedding, cushions, carpets and curtains, and the best way to prevent exposure is to reduce the humidity in your home and use special protective covers for your mattresses, pillows and bedding.
Myth 7: Allergies are all in your head!
Believe it or not, some people believe that airborne allergies don’t really occur, while others play down their seriousness. The truth is that allergy symptoms can be extremely troublesome, especially for some unfortunate souls who experience a strong reaction to allergens like pollen, dust mites, mold and pet dander. While food allergies are more likely to have deadly repercussions, in extreme cases airborne allergies can cause difficulty breathing and exacerbate asthma symptoms in those with the condition.
Myth 8: Bee pollen can be used to treat hay fever
It probably won’t surprise most people to know that a pollen allergy can’t be treated with more pollen – but that doesn’t stop some from claiming that it can! Bee pollen contains lots of wonderful nutrients and offers various health benefits, but there are currently no studies showing that it can help with allergies, with some even suggesting that it can cause an allergic reaction! Relief from pollen allergy symptoms can be provided by medicines such as antihistamines and air purification devices, but sadly bee pollen does not help.
Myth 9: There’s no connection between hay fever and food allergies
Seasonal allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, is an allergic response to airborne pollen whereas allergenic foods cause issues when ingested, leading many to believe there’s no connection between the two. However, despite the different pathways, both types of allergen can cause problems however they get into the body. This is demonstrated by the fact that some foods containing proteins that are similar to certain pollen types can trigger an allergic reaction in people with hay fever who respond to those particular pollens. This condition is known as pollen food allergy syndrome.
Myth 10: Allergy medicine is the only science-based allergy relief
Allergy medications such as antihistamines, decongestants and leukotriene modifiers are proven tools for people struggling with allergies – but is there a chemical-free solution? Enter Respiray Wear A+. Wear A+ is an ergonomic wearable air purifier that has been tested in strict laboratory conditions. Testing and certification organization SGS and the European Centre for Allergy Research Foundation (ECARF) have found that Wear A+ removes 99.9% of allergen particles from the air surrounding the airways and provides users with significant relief from their allergy symptoms.