Last year was one of the worst allergy seasons on record, and this year allergy season is springing up early, already bringing the ‘wheezes and sneezes’ to people everywhere. With all the myths and misconceptions about relieving allergy symptoms, it’s hard to know the best way to fight off a runny nose, watery and itchy eyes, and congestion.
Robin Wilson is the ambassador for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, has a line of hypoallergenic products at Bed, Bath & Beyond, and was one of the pioneers of the eco-friendly movement who has designed healthy spaces for names like Bill Clinton and Robert Kennedy Jr.
Robin explains some of the most common myths and their truths:
Myth: Vitamin C is beneficial for allergy sufferers
Truth: High levels of vitamin C can lower levels of histamine in the body, but beware: Fruit is not your friend. Many of our favorite fruits, from apples and bananas to peaches and plums, can cause symptoms similar to grass or tree pollen reactions. If you are sensitive, place the fruit in the microwave for 10 seconds to deactivate the proteins, and never eat the peel.
Myth: A hypoallergenic dog won’t aggravate my allergies
Truth: There’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. Poodles, Labradoodles and Yorkshire terriers are all considered hypoallergenic because they don’t shed hair, but there’s no scientific proof that these breeds produce lower amounts of Can f 1, the most common dog allergen. Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after playing with an animal.
Myth: Dust free equals allergy free
Truth: In general, the old saying “Cleanliness is next to godliness” is true. However, a little exposure to dirt and germs is actually a good thing, because it strengthens the immune system.
Myth: Shower often
Truth: Allergy sufferers are told to shower often to remove pollen and pet dander from their bodies. But beware of that shower curtain! The phthalate chemicals in vinyl shower curtains off-gas and poison the air with humidity and heat, and also attract mold and mildew. Always use a nylon shower curtain liner.
Myth: A pillowcase is enough to protect me from dust mites
Truth: If your pillow is more than three years old and has never been washed, it weighs more now than when you bought it. It’s loaded with dust mites that are next to your face while you sleep. Use hypoallergenic pillows over down pillows, and use a zippered pillow protector that you wash weekly for a double barrier. Wash your pillow twice a year and replace pillows every three years.
Myth: Air fresheners will clean the air
Truth: Air fresheners are full of chemicals like formaldehyde, petroleum distillates, limonene, esters and alcohols. Use a soy candle as an option that contains essential oils and no perfumes, as it will burn cleaner. Or try a hypoallergenic spray such as Endust, which is certified by the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America.