Separating Allergy Facts from Fiction
There are many allergy myths that circulate among parents. From old wives’ tales to new blog broadcasts – we try to set the record straight.
If your child has seasonal or year-round environmental allergies, you already know many of the basic facts. You know your child’s symptoms are triggered by allergens like pollen, dander, or mold spores. You’re aware that these symptoms can make outdoor sports and other activities difficult, if not impossible, for your child during certain months. And, you know your doctor can prescribe certain treatments to ease the sneezing, itching, and watery eyes that appear each year.
But there are also many allergy myths that circulate among parents, from old wives’ tales to new blog broadcasts, and Children’s Health would like to set the record straight. Read on to find out if some common statements you believed to be true are altogether accurate or flat-out false.
- Everyone has allergies.
FALSE: As many as 40 percent of children experience allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Some children exhibit allergic sensitivity to pollens from trees, grasses, or weeds in spring, summer, and/or early fall, while others – especially those sensitive to dust mites, animal dander, and/or mold – experience symptoms year-round.
- If my child doesn’t have allergies now, he/she won’t ever have them.
FALSE: Seasonal allergies can develop at almost any time, though they usually affect children by the time they’re 10 years old. Some allergies may disappear while a child grows, while others may appear up through adulthood as he or she comes in contact with new potential allergens.
- Moving to a different region or climate won’t cure my child’s allergies.
TRUE: Grass and ragweed pollen can be found almost everywhere. And, certain pollens are very cross-reactive. This means, even if you move your child away from a grass you know he or she is allergic to, he or she can develop allergies to a new regional grass instead.
- Flowers trigger my child’s allergy symptoms.
FALSE: Flower pollen does not usually contribute to children’s allergy symptoms. Pollens from trees, grasses, and weeds are much lighter and can float through the air for a long time. These are the usual culprits for seasonal symptoms.
- My child’s allergies are less severe on rainy days.
TRUE: Pollen counts tend to be lower right after heavy rains. Levels can also be affected by temperature, humidity, and time of day. If your child has moderate-to-severe seasonal allergy symptoms, you may want to keep him or her indoors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., especially on hot, dry, and windy days when pollen tends to run highest.
- My child should take prescribed medication for the whole season.
TRUE: Once you’ve identified your child’s allergy triggers, and the season or seasons they tend to strike, your doctor may prescribe a medication to minimize symptoms. Because allergens can cause an inflammatory response in your child that can last for weeks, it’s best for your child to take medicine through the whole indicated season.
- Allergy shots don’t work.
FALSE: Though scientists haven’t yet found a cure for allergies, allergy shots can reduce reactions in severely-allergic children. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also recently approved tablets that dissolve under the tongue as an alternative to allergy shots for ragweed or grass pollens. Talk to your child’s doctor for more information.
To learn more about allergies, talk to your doctor or visit the Children’s Health website.