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Clearing Up Allergy Misconceptions

With millions of Americans suffering from allergies of various types and trying to find remedies for them, it can be difficult to determine fact from fiction. 

Here are five common misconceptions about allergies, according to St. Vincent’s Medical Center primary care physician, Antonela Barbu, MD, of St. Vincent’s Fairfield Medicine at Black Rock Turnpike:
  1. Misconception: People who are allergic to pets are allergic to their fur. They are actually allergic to dander, which exists regardless of a pet’s amount of hair. No dog or cat is fully hypoallergenic, but the shorter their hair, the less dander they are likely to spread in the air.
  2. Misconception: Children will outgrow all of their allergies. While kids are more likely than adults to have food allergies and can outgrow certain ones, allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish can be lifelong. Children can also develop other allergies later in life. Additionally, new allergies can be developed at any point in life.
  3. Misconception: Food allergies are the same as food intolerance. Allergies to food and food intolerances are different because intolerances do not involve the immune system and food allergies do. Food intolerances are generally not life-threatening, while some food allergies can be fatal.
  4. Misconception: Allergies can be cured in desert climates. A climate change could curb symptoms initially, but you could easily have reactions to allergens in your new environment.
  5. Misconception: Local honey can help your pollen allergies. Most allergies don’t come from the type of pollen found in honey, so it won’t likely help you build your immunity.
Cold or Allergies?
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports nasal allergies affect about 50 million people throughout the country. Adults have an average of 2 to 3 colds per year and children have even more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between allergies and a cold, particularly during the spring. 

According to Dr. Barbu, following are the key differences:
  1. A common cold is more likely to include a fever, muscle aches, headaches and a sore throat.
  2. Allergies are more likely to cause itchy, watery eyes combined with a runny nose and congestion. 
  3. Colds tend to last for a few days up to a couple of weeks, while seasonal allergies are more likely to last longer -- as long as you are in contact with the allergy triggers. 
Because the symptoms between colds and allergies are so similar, you may need to schedule an appointment with a primary care physician to determine which condition you have. 

For more information, contact Dr. Barbu at (203) 366-3869.

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