Dusting Off 9 Seasonal Allergy Myths

Fact or Myth? Eat The Local Honey and You Won't Get Seasonal Allergies

Answer: Myth

With a little understanding of plant reproduction, the reason this is a myth becomes clear relatively quickly.

"The notion is that pollen causes allergy, and honey is made from pollen. Perhaps if you took the pollen and ingested it … then it might somehow build up a tolerance," said Douglas Leavengood, an allergist at Gulf Coast Asthma and Allergy in Biloxi, Miss.

The problem with that thinking, Leavengood said, is that the pollens creating allergy problems aren't the ones bees use for honey.

"It's the tree, grass and weeds that are the allergy pollens. They broadcast [their pollen]," he said.

Instead of wind, flowers, the source of the pollens in a bee's honey, have heavy, sticky pollens that require bees for transport in order for the plant to reproduce.

"The pollen the honey is made out of is not the pollen that causes the allergies. It's not tree pollen and it's not grass pollen," Leavengood said. "As far as allergy goes, it's just the wrong type of pollen."

Fact or Myth? If You Use One Brand of Allergy Medication, You Build a Tolerance and It Will Stop Working

Answer: Myth

This may have been true with earlier generations of allergy medications, but it isn't the case now.

"It was thought to occur with some of the first generation antihistamines," Shulan said, but "that really has not been shown to occur with the newer medications."

There are a couple of reasons people might think they have developed a tolerance for their meds, however.

For one thing, Dalan noted, antihistamine pills are just a "Band-Aid" for allergy symptoms and do not eliminate allergies. A person exposed to more of the allergen may find that symptoms will occur despite the medication.

"It's still working, but it's not working to the amount that they want it to work," he said. "It's a change in the environment."

Part of the problem may also be the expectations of the allergy sufferer for which symptoms the medication will alleviate.

"The antihistamines are good for itching, sneezing [and] runny nose," Shulan said. "For a stuffy head, they really don't do a lot."

Fact or Myth? You Can Outgrow Your Seasonal Allergies

Answer: Sort Of

This is one myth where the science and the practical meaning don't line up, which is why one might be confused by it.

"If it is truly an allergic disease, the DNA started it up and you were born with that DNA," Dalan said. "The DNA for the allergy are always going to be there."

So you won't lose the allergy, necessarily. However, Dalan noted, "It's the [severity of the] symptoms that comes and goes."

"You don't really outgrow your allergies. Your symptoms can come and go depending on those factors, but the propensity for the allergies is always going to be there, but they might not have symptoms for years," he said.

For a lot of people, a severe childhood allergy may seem much milder with age.

"Your sensitivities change over time. You can pick up some new ones; you can lose some," Katial said. "If it starts early in life, the sensitivity does tend to go down."

But while age and allergy shots may take some of the sting out of the allergies, they typically remain, to some degree, for life.

"There is a tendency for many people to become less sensitive over time," Shulan said. But that doesn't mean the allergy is completely gone.

"Most people will tend to keep allergies for a long time, into their senior years," he said.

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