Defining Allergy Fact from Fiction

The greatest allergy myths and misconceptions, debunked
From the News Desk of Jeanne Hambleton

Released: 10/30/2013 2:00 PM EDT
Embargo expired: 11/7/2013 12:00 AM EST
Source Newsroom: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)

Newswise — BALTIMORE, MD. (November 7, 2013) – From gluten allergy and hypoallergenic pets, to avoiding the flu shot because of an egg allergy, there are a lot of common myths and misconceptions about allergies. Many might be shocking due to a great deal of false information in the media and on the Internet. And some of the misconceptions can be damaging to your health if vaccinations are skipped and extreme dietary avoidances are taken.

But where did all of these misconceptions come from? According to a presentation being given at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), previously held beliefs from medical experts and public perception are partially to blame.

“Many early medical beliefs have been proven to be incorrect as research has advanced,” said allergist David Stukus, MD, ACAAI member and presenter. “Unfortunately, some of these beliefs are still on the Internet, where an astonishing 72 percent of users turn to for health information.”

In his presentation, Dr. Stukus outlined some of the greatest allergy myths, and explained why they are false.
1. I’m Allergic to Artificial Dyes – There is no scientific evidence to support a link between exposure to artificial coloring and allergies. Controversy exists regarding evidence for artificial coloring and behavioral changes in children, as well as dyes causing chronic urticaria and asthma.

2. I Cannot Have Vaccines Due to an Egg Allergy – Egg embryos are used to grow viruses for vaccines such as the flu, yellow fever and rabies shots. However, it’s now safe to get the flu shot, which can help prevent serious illness.

3. At-Home Blood Tests Reveal All You’re Allergic To – These tests might be able to reveal sensitization, but being sensitized to a certain allergen, like milk, doesn’t mean you’re allergic. These sort of at-home screening tests are not reliable and can often lead to misinterpretation, diagnostic confusion and unnecessary dietary elimination.

4. Highly Allergenic Foods Shouldn’t be Given to Children until 12 Months of Age – For most children, there is no evidence to support avoidance of highly allergenic foods past four to six months of age. New evidence emerging shows that early introduction of highly allergenic foods may promote tolerance.

5. I’m Allergic to Cats and Dogs, but Can Have a Hypoallergenic Breed – Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog or cat. Allergens are released in saliva, sebaceous glands and perianal glands. It’s not the fur people are allergic to. It is true that some breeds are more bothersome for allergy sufferers than others.

6. I’m Allergic to Shellfish and Cannot Have Iodine Imaging – Radiologists and cardiologists often use iodinated contrast during CT scans and other procedures for better imaging. Since shellfish contain iodine, many physicians have linked a contrast reaction to a shellfish allergy. However, this is false, and a shellfish allergy has nothing to do with the reaction. In fact, iodine is not and cannot be an allergen as it found in the human body.

7. I Can’t have Bread, I’m Allergic to Gluten – You can have a gluten intolerance, but it’s extremely rare to have a true allergy. Most allergic reactions to these foods stem from wheat. Many people self-label as having gluten allergy and avoid gluten without any medical indication.

With information being widespread online via social media portals, how do you know what to believe and what not to believe?

“If you think you may have an allergy, you should see a board-certified allergist for proper evaluation, testing, diagnosis and treatment,” said Dr. Stukus. “Misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment can be dangerous.”

The ACAAI Annual Meeting is being held Nov. 7-11 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore. For more news and research being presented at the meeting, follow the conversation on Twitter #ACAAI.

About ACAAI
The ACAAI is a professional medical organization of more than 5,700 allergists-immunologists and allied health professionals, headquartered in Arlington Heights, Ill. The College fosters a culture of collaboration and congeniality in which its members work together and with others toward the common goals of patient care, education, advocacy and research. ACAAI allergists are board-certified physicians trained to diagnose allergies and asthma, administer immunotherapy, and provide patients with the best treatment outcomes

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About jeanne hambleton

Journalist-wordsmith, former reporter, columnist, film critic, editor, Town Clerk and then fibromite and eventer with 5 conferences done and dusted. Interested in all health and well being issues, passionate about research to find a cure and cause for fibromyalgia. Member LinkedIn. Worked for 4 years with FMA UK as Regional Coordinator for SW and SE,and Chair for FMS SAS the Sussex and Surrey FM umbrella charity and Chair Folly Pogs Fibromyalgia Research UK - finding funding for our "cause for a cure" and President and co ordinator of National FM Conferences. Just finished last national annual Fibromyalgia Conference Weekend. This was another success with speakers from the States . Next year's conference in Chichester Park Hotel, West Sussex, will be April 24/27 2015 and bookings are coming in from those who raved about the event every year. I am very busy but happy to produce articles for publication. News Editor of FMS Global News on line but a bit behind due to conference. A workaholic beyond redemption! The future - who knows? Open to offers with payment. Versatile and looking for a regular paid column - you call the tune and I will play the pipes.
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