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Allergists Dispel Myths About Spring Allergies

by VR Sreeraman on February 28, 2011 at 1:15 PM
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 Allergists Dispel Myths About Spring Allergies

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and its allergist members, who are experts at diagnosing and treating allergies and asthma, have offered the following myth-busting advice:

Myth:
Over-the-counter (OTC, or nonprescription) oral antihistamines are just as effective as prescription medicines in controlling your stuffy nose.

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Fact:
TC antihistamines can help control some allergy symptoms but they have little effect on relieving a stuffy nose or the inflammation that often occurs with allergies. They also can make you drowsy. If your OTC medicine is not helping your stuffy nose or is causing side effects, your best bet is to see an allergist.

"We can prescribe more effective anti-inflammatory medications. But more importantly than that, also we can find the source of your suffering rather than just treating the symptoms," said allergist Myron Zitt, of ACAAI.
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Myth:
OTC decongestant nasal sprays are addictive.

Fact:
OTC decongestant nasal sprays are not technically addictive. However, if you overuse them, it may seem as though they are because you may need to use more and more to get relief from the congestion. To combat this, don't use an OTC decongestant nasal spray more than three days in a row, and talk to your allergist about prescription nasal sprays containing steroids.

Myth:
Eating local honey will combat spring allergies.

Fact:
Local honey is made from the pollen of local flowers, so it might seem logical that eating it would increase your allergy tolerance. However, the pollens that cause spring allergies are produced by trees, grasses and weeds, not the showy flowers that bees buzz around. In fact, eating honey can be risky for some people, who could have an allergic reaction.

Myth:
Pollen allergy won't lead to food allergy.

Fact:
Actually, about one third of people with pollen allergies also may react to certain foods. The reaction - called oral allergy syndrome or pollen-food allergy - is usually mild, including an itchy, tingling mouth, throat or lips. It has to do with similar proteins in the pollens.

Myth:
Allergy shots require too much time and are more expensive than taking medicine to relieve symptoms.

Fact:
Depending on how bothersome your allergies are, immunotherapy (allergy shots) may actually save you money and improve your quality of life. In fact, a recent study showed that immunotherapy reduced total health care costs in children with allergic rhinitis (hay fever) by one-third, and prescription costs by 16 percent.

Myth:
A blood test is the best test to diagnose allergies.

Fact:
Actually skin tests are more sensitive than blood tests. In skin testing, the skin on the inside of the arms or the back is pricked with a tiny bit of an allergen. If you're allergic, the site will become red and swollen. Skin testing is very safe when performed by an allergist, even in infants and young children. But no single test alone provides the entire picture.

Source: ANI
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