Not everything you hear about allergies is true. There are a handful of myths. Fall for them and you might head down the wrong treatment path — one that leads away from the relief you need.
Common myths might also spur you to make ineffective changes to your environment or lifestyle. The fix: Ask your family doctor or immunologist about any new medications, home remedies, or lifestyle changes you’ve heard about before you try them.
Here are some common myths to ask your doctor about:
Myth #1:Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines and decongestants work as well as prescription ones.
Fact: Doctors can prescribe a wider array of medications than what you’ll find on drugstore shelves, including potentially stronger anti-inflammatories and antihistamines with fewer side effects (e.g., drowsiness).
Myth #2: You should take medication only when you have symptoms.
Fact: Sure, antihistamines can help relieve symptoms after they start, but because they’re designed to short-circuit allergy-inducing histamine, you really should take them before symptoms become full-blown.
Myth #3:OTC decongestants are addictive.
Fact: Not exactly. But when you use decongestant sprays for more than a few days, the effects wear off more quickly, so you need more medicine to get the same relief. Plus, using decongestants for longer than three consecutive days can sometimes cause rebound congestion.
Myth #4:You have to give up your pet.
Fact: Love your pet but hate your allergies? Immunotherapy (allergy shots) — along with smart lifestyle strategies — can significantly reduce your exposure to allergy-inducing pet dander. While this combo treatment may not work for all pet-loving allergy sufferers, it does work for many.
Myth #5:Moving to a dry climate will eliminate your allergies.
Fact: Arid, desert climates in the Southwest may not have many of the tree pollens found in the East and Midwest, but they do have a variety of allergy-triggering ragweed and grass pollens. Sufferers who move to the desert may trade one kind of trigger for another.