Combating Myths About Seasonal Allergies

Separating fact from fiction may help reduce spring misery, experts say

SUNDAY, March 13 (HealthDay News) -- With spring allergy season looming, people need to know the facts about controlling their allergies, says the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

According to the ACAAI:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) oral antihistamines are less effective than prescription medicines in controlling a stuffy nose. OTC antihistamines may control some allergy symptoms but have little effect on relieving a stuffy nose or inflammation that often occurs with allergies.
  • OTC decongestant nasal sprays are not addictive. However, overuse leads to the need to use more and more nasal spray in order to get congestion relief. Don't use an OTC decongestant nasal spray for more than three days in a row.
  • Eating local honey will not combat spring allergies.
  • Pollen allergies can lead to food allergies. About one-third of people with pollen allergies also may react to certain foods because some pollens and foods have similar proteins. The reaction is usually mild and may include itchy, tingling mouth, throat or lips.
  • Skin tests are more sensitive than blood tests for diagnosing allergies.
  • Allergy shots are not necessarily more costly or time-consuming than taking medicine to relieve allergy symptoms. Over time, in fact, they may reduce an allergic person's health-care costs.

More information

The American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery has more about allergies and hay fever.

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