Ahhh-Choo! Gwinnett Medical Center-Duluth sheds some light on six allergy myths

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Have you ever heard people say they can’t mow the lawn because they’re allergic to cut grass? Did you automatically assume they were fibbing and really allergic to manual labor instead? You’re not alone.

Many myths swirl around the topic of seasonal allergies. Here are six we’d like to set straight.

1. Only flowers, not grass or weeds, cause allergies.

False. Ornamental flowers, like all pollen-bearing plants, are a major contributor to allergy symptoms. But grass and weeds contain pollen, and are most potent from late winter through early summer. Tree pollen, on the other hand, will hit the air mainly in late spring. Wind and humidity can make symptoms worse.

2. If you’ve never had allergies, you never will.

False. The most common onset of seasonal allergies is in the teens and 30s. But they can start at any age. An allergy is, quite simply, when the body’s immune system overreacts to any number of substances, which are called allergens. Seasonal allergies cause symptoms such as runny nose, sneezing, itchiness and watery eyes. Food and medicine allergies can cause serious reactions that may be life-threatening.

3. You don’t need to take allergy medication until you notice symptoms.

False. It’s best to begin allergy medicine, such as an over-the-counter antihistamine, before the allergy season or exposure hits.

4. Hay causes hay fever.

True and false. While hay can, in fact, cause allergy symptoms because it’s a plant, many other things also cause hay fever, which is just another name for seasonal allergies. Also, there is usually no fever associated with allergies.

5. Allergy shots contain the very thing you’re allergic to.

True. Though it sounds a little ludicrous, it actually makes sense. The allergen in a shot, such

as grass pollen or ragweed, stimulates your immune system to create antibodies to fight the allergen. Then, over time when you and this allergen meet, these new antibodies will help to block it, resulting in less severe symptoms. This form of immunotherapy isn’t a cure-all for all allergies, so ask your doctor if it’s right for you.

6. It’s just an allergy, there’s nothing a doctor can do for me.

False. It can be challenging to understand what exactly is going on inside your sinuses without professional help. Colds, sinus infections, allergies, and structural issues may all contribute to headaches, breathing difficulties, coughing, swollen or watery eyes, or a runny or clogged nose. Sometimes the only way to sort out the cause is to visit a physician. He or she can perform tests to determine the cause of your symptoms, including using precision instruments to get a look inside your sinuses, and allergy testing. The doctor’s toolbox includes prescription medicines, or surgery, where appropriate, for long-term relief.

So, if everyone around you is saying, “Ah, spring!” and you can only reply with “Ah-CHOO!” stop suffering. Learn more about sinus symptoms and treatments at gwinnettmedicalcenter.org/sinus, or find a physician by calling 678-312-5000.