Allergies are extremely common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 60 million people in the U.S. experience allergies each year, and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 20% of the world’s population have an allergic condition.
Yet despite the prevalence, there are many myths around allergies that we need to dispel. Some of them are listed below.
Myth: Allergies Only Develop in Children
Truth: Adults can also develop allergies. In one study, 10.8% of over 40,000 U.S. adults had a food allergy, and half this number developed at least one of their food allergies during adulthood.
Myth: Allergies Are Life-Long
Truth: While some allergies are life-long, some are common to grow out of. According to a review on food allergies, most children outgrow allergies to milk, egg, soy and wheat; however, peanut, tree nut, fish and shellfish allergies tend to be life-long.
Myth: Food Allergies Are the Same as Food Intolerances
Truth: Food allergies and food intolerances are driven by different types of body responses. With food allergies, the body’s reaction is driven by the immune system and usually results in the production of Immunoglobulin E (IgE) and histamine. Intolerances do not involve the immune system. In addition, food allergies can be life-threatening whereas food intolerances are not.
Myth: Flowers Cause Hay Fever
Truth: The pollen that flowers produce is large and sticky, so it doesn’t fly through the air. In most cases, hay fever is caused by airborne pollen, like that of trees, grasses and weeds.
Myth: People with Pet Allergies Can Get Hypoallergenic Breeds
Truth: In reality, there are no truly hypoallergenic breeds. Allergies to cats and dogs come from their skin cells (dander), saliva and urine, not the length or type of their fur. In addition, pet hair can collect other allergens like pollen and mold spores, causing worse allergies for some.
Myth: Allergies Aren’t Serious
Truth: While allergies can be a mild nuisance or cause moderate discomfort for some, for others they can be life-threatening. Anaphylaxis is a severe type of allergic reaction that causes difficulty breathing, wheezing, stomach pain, cramps, diarrhea, swelling, anxiety and loss of consciousness.