One in five people in the United States have at least one type of allergy, including hay fever, food, drug, and latex allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Despite this high prevalence, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about allergies floating around – including what, exactly, an allergy is. We've dug into the scientific literature and spoke with allergy experts Drs. Jeffrey Stokes and Marc Riedl to bring you the truth about allergies, and some general guidelines to follow if you've been diagnosed with them (or suspect you may have them).
If you're allergic to a specific type of plant pollen, such as ragweed, don't be too tempted to move across country to avoid that allergen. Eventually, your allergies will catch up to you. "People who have that predisposition for allergies may learn new things to become allergic to in another environment," says Riedl. Moving to a new place may stop your allergic reactions for a couple years, but then your immune system will likely start focusing on other things in your environment – pollen from a different tree or grass, for example – to defend against. Also, keep in mind that ridding your home and garden of flowers isn't going to help much. The most allergenic pollen actually comes from plain-looking plants, such as trees, grasses, and weeds, which create tiny, buoyant pollen particles that easily travel on the wind, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
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