Many people suffer from allergies, which can range from mildly annoying to debilitating and dangerous. However, most people do not know what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to these conditions. These are some of the top myths that people believe about allergic reactions.

Myth 1. It’s all in your head.

Reality: The way that some people can react to only the sight of an allergy trigger often makes people believe that all of their reactions are psychosomatic. However, allergies are very real. A reaction before the stimulus is present may be based on the unconscious mind remembering how the body reacted last time. Allergies are serious conditions that can even be fatal for certain people, and should not be taken lightly.

Myth 2. Children will outgrow their allergies.

Reality: This one is partially true. Some children do outgrow their allergies and particularly allergies to wheat, cow’s milk, soy, and eggs will likely be left behind over time. However, other allergies can be lifelong and potentially life-threatening, such as allergies to peanuts, shellfish, or tree nuts. Outgrowing allergies isn’t all good news, either, as people can develop new ones in adulthood to replace their childhood sensitivities.

Myth 3. Allergies aren’t dangerous.

Reality: A lot of people have allergies that are not dangerous. Hay fever is annoying, and the hives that some people get when exposed to certain plants or chemicals are merely itchy. However, an extreme reaction can cause anaphylactic shock which is a condition where the throat and airways swell shut and blood pressure plummets. It can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. Reactions to bee stings, nuts and shellfish are the most likely to be severe and dangerous. Carrying a pre-loaded, self-injectable syringe of the drug epinephrine is the most common precaution that these severe allergy sufferers take.

Myth 4. Pet allergies are reactions to fur.

Reality: People who are allergic to pets are not allergic to their fur, although it may carry the real culprit around the house. Dander, the proper name for the debris made up of dead skin cells and dirt naturally shed by the body, contains proteins that allergy sufferers react to. There are different proteins responsible for individual allergies, but most people react to a common one that is also present in the saliva and urine. Dogs are less likely to provoke allergies than cats and non-shedding pets are less likely to spread dander around the environment, but no pet is completely hypoallergenic.

Myth 5. Many people are allergic to milk.

Reality: It is true that many adults cannot tolerate milk. However, the culprit in this case is not an allergy. Allergies are reactions of the immune system, and people who cannot tolerate milk are usually lactose intolerant. This means that their bodies cannot break down the sugar in milk, which triggers digestive upset such as gas and stomach pains.

Myth 6. Organic foods are hypoallergenic.

Reality: Allergies are reactions to certain organic molecules. For people who happen to be allergic to proteins commonly present in highly-processed foods, eating organic can bring some relief. However, all allergic reactions have to do with the proteins in the product, not the chemicals that may be used to produce them. People who are allergic to peanuts will react just as strongly to organic peanuts as non-organic ones.

Myth 7. Moving can cure allergies.

Reality: People who suffer from a single allergy to a locally-common plant may be able to move out of the area where it grows. However, most people with severe problems are allergic to multiple items and prone to allergies. Thus, they tend to develop new allergies to the things in any environment they move into.

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