The Sneeze

Allergy Mythbusters

July 1, 2022

Written By:

Gital K Patel

Myth #1

Living in a desert or beach climate can alleviate your allergies.

Allergy sufferers may think that moving to another climate can help alleviate their allergy symptoms. However, pollen can be found nearly everywhere in the country. Trees, grasses, and weeds produce pollen as the weather gets warmer. 

In desert climates, the dry and breezy climate actually helps the allergens travel further with the wind. 

Beaches generally have lower pollen counts.  However, since grass and ragweed can be found nearby, their pollen is not uncommonly found at the beach. 

The beach also does not give those with mold or dust allergies a break. Mold thrives in humid, damp conditions both at the beach and indoors near the coast. Likewise, dust loves warm temperatures and humidity. 

Moving may decrease your symptoms initially, however there is a honeymoon period of two to five years. After that time, those that have predisposition to allergies can then develop allergies in their new environment. 

Myth #2

A fresh bouquet of flowers can trigger allergies.

Plants release tiny pollen grains to fertilize other plants of the same species. Most of the pollen that causes allergic reactions actually comes from trees, grasses, and weeds. These plants make small, light, and dry pollen grains that travel by the wind. They then can find their way into your eyes, nose, and lungs, causing allergy symptoms if you have a pollen allergy.

Flowering plants, such as roses, spread their pollen by insects. Flower pollen is relatively heavy and does not  travel as far or as easily as smaller, lighter pollen particles. This is because flowers are designed to attract bees and other insects, which carry the pollen for them. Other plants need smaller pollen so the wind can carry it to new locations.

Myth #3

Local honey can help treat allergies.

Local honey, while very tasty, does little to combat allergies to pollen that comes from grasses, trees or weeds. 

The idea is that bees pick up pollen spores from flowers, and transfer them to the honey. Then when people eat the local honey, they are thought to be ingesting small amounts of local pollen and decreasing their sensitivity by doing so. 

As mentioned above, bees are helpful in pollinating flowering plants which rarely trigger the allergic reactions responsible for seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies are usually triggered by windborne pollen, not pollen spread by insects. 

Honey, however, does have some inherent anti-inflammatory benefits so therefore may have some therapeutic benefit. Remember- avoid giving honey to babies under the age of 1 year. Honey can cause a rare but serious gastrointestinal condition (infant botulism) caused by exposure to Clostridium botulinum spores.

Myth #4

Hay Fever Comes From Hay.

Hay fever is caused by an allergic response to outdoor or indoor allergens, also known as allergic rhinitis. The term hay fever was coined sometime in the 1800s and likely comes from the belief that allergic rhinitis is brought on by the smell of hay in the summer and harvest months.

The term “hay fever” persists today, as it coincides with the onset of the warmer months and increase in airborne pollen. However it is the pollen from trees, weeds, and grasses that are responsible for the allergy symptoms, rather than actual hay.

Hay fever symptoms can affect your quality of life and keep you from doing the activities you love, but effective treatments are available. Talk to your provider about identifying your allergen triggers and effective treatment options.