the 25 most common allergy and asthma myths

The following patient statements are the 25 most prevalent myths about allergy and asthma. These mistaken beliefs need to be corrected in all our minds. I sincerely hope that you will benefit from a better understanding of the world of allergy.

To read the entire "Allergy InsideOut®, Everything You Need to Know About Allergy and Asthma" book with F.A.Q.s, helpful hints and much more, click below.

Allergy InsideOut®: Everything You Need to Know About Allergy and Asthma


“Everyone is allergic to something.”

Allergy is a genetically determined immune disorder that does not occur in everyone. It occurs in 24% - 30% of the U.S. population. Allergy and asthma symptoms are induced by the overproduction of the allergy antibody, IgE. Antibodies help to fight infections. If your antibody production is too low, then you may suffer from an immune deficiency like AIDS. Too much allergy antibody increases your chances of experiencing allergy symptoms such as allergic rhinitis,or hay fever, and asthma. So, everyone cannot be allergic to something.


“my child is allergic to everything.”

It is extremely unlikely for some one to develop allergic immune reactions to “everything.” You may be allergic to many different foods, pollens and mold spores, but not to all foreign substances. It just seems that way.


“Allergy and asthma are due to psychological stress.”

Just the opposite is true. It is extremely stressful not to be able to breathe. Allergy and asthma patients whose symptoms are out of control experience more stress because they do not sleep well at night and they never really get enough rest. Stress cannot cause hives nor can it induce the lips to swell up.You have real stress if you are unable to breathe easily. The asthma arrives before the stress.


“You can out think asthma. Relax, you can breathe.”

Asthma is not in the mind. Relaxing is a great idea, and it is easy to do when you can breathe without resistance through the nose and lungs.

Allergy and asthma are real, physical ailments that cannot be reversed by thinking. If so, then lay an egg, ovulate right now. Turn up your heart rate to 138 beats per minute. Do it, now! There are some parts of your body that you are unable to control by “thinking about it .”


“children outgrow their allergies.”

This myth is a great source of comedy and confusion. It is also a disservice to children. It is true that infants allergic to milk may be able to eat milk products after several years of totally avoiding milk containing foods. The same is not true for other conditions such as peanut hypersensitivity which persists throughout life.The allergic child usually outgrows his or her pediatrician, not the allergies. The fact is that patients grow into, not out of, allergy.


“my cat does not bother me, but my neighbor's cat does.”

A cat is a cat is a cat.

I believe that humans need animals to become more human. Cat allergic patients have a very strong denial system. They seldom admit to their immediate symptoms of sneezing and wheezing when in contact with their own pet cats. The neighbor’s cat is another story altogether. The neighbor’s cat and the mother in-law’s cat will induce immediate and strongly felt allergic and asthmatic responses. Avoidance of these cats is mandatory and religiously adhered to.

Some cats produce less salivary and pelt allergens than others, but they all make some measurable cat specific allergens which can remain suspended in the air for several hours after the room has been disturbed.


“people crave the foods that they're allergic to.”

The source of this fantasy is unknown. It remains totally untrue.There is no scientific reason to believe that humans crave foods that make them ill. Tell your friends to enjoy their meals.


“short haired dogs cause less allergy than long haired dogs.”

Dogs cause allergy and asthma symptoms by releasing allergens from their dander and from their saliva. As long as a dog has skin and saliva there will be dog allergens present in the dog’s environment. The length of the dog’s hair does not determine how allergenic a dog is.


“allergen skin tests do not work in children.”

Not true! Allergy skin tests are very reliable in children as early as 6 weeks of age. There is a great deal of discrimination against allergic children on the basis of their ages.If a child is ill, then it is the duty of the child’s doctor to determine exactly what is wrong. Allergy skin testing can be done simply, accurately, and painlessly.


“asthma patients can not take antihistamines.”

Antihistamines are safe to use in patients with asthma. In order for the lungs to be clear, the sinuses must also be clear. By treating the allergic inflammation in the head, the patient’s asthma quiets down as well. A clear head is a clear lung.


“bee pollen pills are good for asthma.”

Hold on a minute. Is some one selling snake oil, or what?Bee pollen pills are not drugs. They are unregulated collections of allergenic pollens and other unknown materials collected by insects. Bees collect their goodies for the hive’s developing larvae, not for humans. The bee pollen pill label on the box tablets should read, “ Not for human use. For use by bee larvae only. ”These “natural” remedies are only good for someone’s profits. They are not a cure or even a relief for asthma. Indeed, some asthma sufferers experience severe allergic reactions when eating bee pollen pills because of what is in the pills, allergenic pollens!


“antibiotics lower your resistance.”

Antibiotics do not lower your resistance. They may at times induce diarrhea, but that has nothing to do with the body’s ability to fight infections. Overuse of antibiotics can, however, result in bacteria becoming resistant to the antibiotic being over used. Antibiotics work by killing bacteria. Because bacteria can develop resistance to antibiotics,antibiotic use should be limited to those patients who have significant clinical infections.


“asthma is not caused by allergies.”

Asthma has been proven to be caused by allergic reactions within the lungs in 9 out of 10 asthma sufferers. There is no doubt that asthma is an allergic inflammatory illness of the lungs. All asthma patients need to have an allergy evaluation in order to make an accurate diagnosis according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Guidelines on the Treatment of Asthma. An allergy evaluation allows one to identify the exact cause of the disease. Because each patient is unique, a doctor cannot guess at what may or may not be causing someone to wheeze or cough.

Take the guess work out of treating asthma. See an Allergy and Asthma Specialist sooner than later. Get it right the first time.


“when you have symptoms of allergy when cutting the lawn, you must be allergic to grass.”

It is more likely that you are sensitive to mold spores than to grass pollens if you experience itchy eyes, sneezing and wheezing when cutting the lawn, When the lawn is being cut with a power mower, mold spore levels increase dramatically. The twirling blade sucks up molds from the earth below and rockets them airborne spraying the spores in all directions throughout the neighborhood. It is a good idea to cut the lawn before grass pollinates. If you are able to, cut it when it is wet so that fewer allergens become airborne.


“people do not die from asthma.”

There are 5,000 deaths in the U.S. each year due to asthma. Living in a major metropolitan area and being poor increases the risk of death from asthma dramatically. It is currently believed that the higher death rate in these areas is due to the under treatment of asthmatics in poverty and higher exposures to ozone. Ozone has been shown to increase the ability of pollen and mold spore allergens to induce allergic immune responses.Education is the key in turning these deadly figures around. Patients who understand their illness have a better chance to change things for the better. Today there is no reason to die from asthma.Yet, it still occurs.


“if you are allergic to feathers, then you can not receive vaccines made from eggs.”

Egg allergic patients can safely receive vaccines manufactured in egg cultures.

Improvements in vaccine production technology have reduced the level of egg allergens in these products dramatically.

Occasionally an egg allergic patient may have a skin eruption (hives) within 30 minutes after having a vaccine injection, but this reaction is easily treated in the doctors office.

The egg allergic patient should wait in the office for 30 minutes after receiving a vaccine prepared from egg cultures. If a physician believes it is necessary, the patient may also be skin tested with the vaccine under consideration prior to vaccination to reassure the patient.


“you can not take penicillin if you are allergic to molds”

One of the great advances in medicine this century was the discovery of penicillin in the mold Penicillium. Being allergic to molds does not make you allergic to penicillin, and being allergic to the antibiotic penicillin does not mean that you are going to be allergic to molds.

The majority of patients who believe that they are allergic to penicillin have no such problem. They may have been told that they were allergic to penicillin when they had a rash from a viral infection during which time they were also given penicillin coincidentally.

Was it a virus or the penicillin? The doctor reasons correctly that it is easier to avoid using penicillin in the future since there are other antibiotics to use.


“if you are allergic to shellfish then you can not receive radio-contrast x-ray dyes.”

This myth is perpetuated most by the X-ray and emergency departments in hospitals. Having experienced an allergic reaction to shellfish does not mean anything about X-ray dyes! There is no relationship whatsoever. Some radiologists state that “a shellfish allergic patient must be allergic to sulfa or sulfur.

The old X-ray dyes contained sulfur.” Sorry, but the allergens found in shellfish are not in radio-contrast dyes.If you have had an allergic reaction to shellfish, see an Allergy Specialist not a Radiologist.


“if you are allergic to molds then you must remove all plants from your house.”

Plants are nice.The tiny amounts of mold spores released from potted plants in the home will do nothing to aggravate mold allergic patients.


“cutting down the cottonwood trees will clear the air of spring pollens that cause hay fever.”

Every year I save the cottonwood trees.

Our local alderman tries to convince the City Council that it is the fluff from the cottonwood trees that causes all the hay fever in early May. Wrong. The cottonwood pollinates weeks earlier when its fluffy seeds fly into the air in an attempt to reproduce. Unfortunately, at the same time the cottonwood does this, grass begins to pollinate.

So, it is the unseen grass pollen that causes hay fever symptoms at the time you see the white, puffy cottonwood seeds in the air. Give the cottonwoods a break.


“the ears of allergic children turn bright red when they eat something they are allergic to.”

I have no idea where this concept originates, but it is absolutely false.Ears become red when there is more blood flowing into the soft tissues within the ears. The “redness ” of ones face, hands or ears is not an accurate indicator of what someone is allergic to, nor is it a very good way to determine what some one is thinking.


“allergy shots do not work.”

Allergen immunotherapy is the only form of therapy that actually reverses the immune imbalance in allergy patients. Multiple studies have proven the effectiveness of allergy injections for allergic rhinitis (hay fever) and asthma. Allergy shots have even been proven to decrease the airway reactivity in asthma sufferers.

All other forms of treatment with various medications cover up the symptoms but do absolutely nothing about the underlying cause. Not all patients with allergies need shots. Allergy injections are 90% effective in preventing the progression of the allergic disease. They help to reduce the infammation within the breathing passageways of the nose, the sinuses and the upper airways. Allergy injections are preventive medicine required by 20% of allergic rhinitis sufferers.

After receiving an allergy injection, a patient does not stand up and say, “ Wow. I feel great! ”Allergy shots will not make you feel better immediately. They help by inducing a state of tolerance to specific allergens that one is allergic to.

It takes three months for allergy treatments to become effective. If a patient is no better after one year of allergen immunotherapy, then we stop the therapy and conclude that the patient is unresponsive. This occurs in about 10% of patients.


“tea and coffee are good for asthma.”

Tea and coffee beans contain the stimulants caffeine and theophylline. Both of these agents, or drugs, will open the airways to some degree.

Beans and leaves, however, are a poor choice for managing allergy and asthma symptoms today. There are extremely effective medications available to control almost all patients asthma symptoms.

Drink tea and coffee because you like it, not because you think it will “cure” allergy symptoms


“it's my husband's fault that my daughter has asthma.”

Allergy and asthma are diseases that run in families. An allergy patient has a genetic tendency to develop allergic immune reactions to environmental and/or food derived allergens.

Both parents contribute to the genetic make up of a child. So, it is unfair to blame a husband for a child’s symptoms of asthma. In fact, the mother has more to do with allergy tendencies in her children than the father does, but let’s not start finger pointing after the fact of conception. Let’s blame Eve, the mother of us all.


“when the doctor asks 'how are you doing?' the patient with allergy or asthma answers, 'i'm doing fine doc, i just can't breathe so good.'”

Allergy and asthma patients do not know what normal breathing really is. They have slowly developed their symptoms over a period of years. Many have had congestion in the nose their entire lives.

Is it possible to know what normal really is, if you can’t remember what it is like to breathe easily through the nose and into the lungs?Patients with allergy and asthma do not know what normal breathing really is.

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