Medical myths: All about allergies

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IN brief, an allergy is an unusual or exaggerated immune response triggered by a particular substance. Symptoms often include itchy eyes, wheezing, and sneezing. For many people, allergic reactions are uncomfortable and unpleasant, but they can be life threatening for others.

According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 60 millionTrusted Source people in the United States experience allergies each year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 20% of people worldwide have an allergic condition.

One of the most common allergies — hay fever — affected an estimated 19.2 millionTrusted Source adults in the U.S. during 2018, and this figure is likely to rise.

“Allergies are currently on the rise in the U.S.,” explained Dr. Omid Mehdizadeh, an otolaryngologist and laryngologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA.

He told Medical News Today that “scientists believe the increasing prevalence of environmental allergies is due to changing weather patterns and increasing pollen blooms in the U.S.”

Considering their prevalence, understanding and dismissing the myths associated with allergies is an important task. Here, we tackle 11 such myths.

One persistent myth is that once you reach adulthood, you don’t develop any more allergies. This is untrue.

One studyTr-usted Source, for instance, looked at the prevalence of food allergies in 40,443 adults in the U.S. At the time of the survey, 10.8% of participants had a food allergy.

The authors found that in around half of these individuals with food allergies, at least one of these food allergies developed during adulthood.

In general, the best way to minimize allergic reactions is to avoid triggers, whether a particular food or a type of animal. There are no cures for allergies.

However, certain treatments can effectively reduce the symptoms. For instance, decongestants can relieve the nasal symptoms of allergies, while antihistamines and nasal steroid sprays can also be effective.

Additionally, allergy immunotherapy can help reduce allergies.