Myth: I only need to take my allergy medication when I’m feeling really bad.
Truth: Most allergy medications work best if taken daily, beginning a week or so before allergy season. When the medication is working in your body, it can take effect immediately after exposure to an allergen.
Myth: Moving to a dryer climate – the Southwest, for example – will cure my allergies.
Truth: There really is no allergy-free zone. Deserts have plenty of plants that produce pollen, such as sagebrush, cottonwood and olive trees. Relocating may offer relief for a while, but allergies to local plants could develop before long.
Myth: Allergy medications make me sleepy, so I just tolerate my symptoms because there’s nothing I can do to stop them.
Truth: Non-sedating allergy medications – including some antihistamines and nasal corticosteroids – are available and effective at relieving symptoms. Many people also find effective relief from nasal washes. If you purchase a medication over the counter, read and follow the dosing and safety instructions printed on the medication label. Talk with your primary care doctor or allergist about treatment options, including allergy shots.
Myth: All I need to control my allergies indoors is an air cleaner.
Truth: An air cleaner or purifier will only remove allergens floating in the air; they do nothing for pollen and mold spores on your clothes, shoes or hair that you bring in from outside. Air cleaners are one part of an overall strategy to reduce allergens indoors.
Myth: I’ve never had allergies before, so this runny nose must be a cold.
Truth: You can develop new allergies at any time, even as an adult. If your eyes, nose and throat are itchy, your nasal drip is clear and thin, and symptoms last longer than two weeks, it could be an allergy. See an allergist for testing and to discuss treatment options.
Reviewed by Martha White, MD