Like pollens that can spread quickly through the air, myths about seasonal allergies also seem to circulate widely.
"I hear allergy myths all the time," said Dr. John Costa, medical director of the Brigham and Women's Hospital Allergy and Clinical Immunology Practice in Boston.
To clear the air of these common misconceptions, here are nine allergy myths that may be making the rounds.
Myth: Everybody has allergies. Only one in five Americans has allergic rhinitis, which in spring is also known as "rose fever" and in fall is called "hay fever," Costa said. While there has been a rise in the incidence of seasonal and food allergies in the United States over the last 20 to 30 years, people who don't have any allergies don't really worry about getting them, he said. And they often have no clue how miserable people with seasonal allergies feel, Costa said.
Myth: If you didn't have seasonal allergies as a child, you won't develop them as an adult. The body comes in contact with new things all the time, and can become highly allergic to them at any time. There is nothing innately harmful about tree pollen, for example, but some people's immune systems look at tree pollens and say, 'I'm going to have a reaction to this,' Costa said. "If you didn't have allergies as a kid, it can happen to you as an adult," he said. "If you had them as a kid, allergies can gradually and unpredictably go away."