Allergy theories: Separating fact from fiction

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, it’s no wonder you want to know as much as you can about them—especially when it comes to tips for helping you manage your symptoms. The problem is that there’s so much information out there, which can make it hard to decipher fact from fiction.
It’s time to get to the bottom of some of the most widely held allergy beliefs.

1. Allergies always start during childhood

FALSE. Although seasonal allergies usually begin during childhood, it doesn’t mean they can’t develop at any stage of life. It’s possible to develop an allergy to anything at any time. The way it works is that people develop allergies when they’re exposed to new allergens. So if, for example, you’re exposed to pine tree pollen for the first time in your 30s, you might only develop the allergy then. Regardless of your age, if you find yourself with new symptoms such as an itchy nose and throat for more than two weeks, it may very well be allergies.

2. Thunderstorms can make allergies worse

TRUE. Although allergy sufferers often welcome rain because they think it will provide relief by washing away pollen that’s aggravating their symptoms, thunderstorms are a different story. The reason for this is that the change in air temperature during a thunderstorm can cause pollen to rise into the air, making it a threat for allergy sufferers. If you’re worried about allergy symptoms acting up after a thunderstorm, you can try taking a thorough shower, so you don’t bring allergens into bed with you.

3. Eating local honey cures plant allergies

FALSE. Many people are under the impression that eating local honey regularly will improve seasonal allergies because you’re ingesting small amounts of pollen over time—and it would be sweet if that worked. Although the idea of honey alleviating plant allergies makes sense in theory, the plants responsible for seasonal allergies aren’t typically pollinated by insects, but rather by wind.

4. Developing allergies is often hereditary

TRUE. It is certainly possible for parents to pass on the tendency to develop allergies to their offspring. In addition, if both parents have allergies, then it is even more likely for their child to develop them. However, children don’t usually inherit a particular allergy from their parents—just the probability of having allergies in general. Another interesting finding about genetics and the children of allergy sufferers is that there appears to be a sex-dependent association. Meaning, a girl is more likely to develop allergies if her mother suffers from allergies, and the same is true for a boy and his father.

5. You can avoid grass allergies by planting pollen-free grass

FALSE. Many people believe that you can steer clear of grass allergies by having pollen-free grass or a grass-free alternative around your house. Although this sounds reasonable and it would be amazing if it were the case, the theory simply doesn’t make sense. Why? Wind can carry pollen over 1,600 km, so to avoid grass allergies, you’d actually have to live somewhere with no grass around in your neighbourhood at all—which is obviously unrealistic.

Now that you know what to believe when it comes to these five commonly held theories, help set the record straight by sharing this information with your fellow allergy sufferers!

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