Reviewed by Varnada Karriem-Norwood on May 31, 2012


Stanley Fineman, MD, Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinic. Karen DeMuth, MD, Allergist, Emory Children’s Center.

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Video Transcript

Narrator: In our quest to clear the air about allergies, we went to the experts to help us sort fiction from fact. Tall tale number one. Allergies are no big deal.

Karen DeMuth, MD: Allergies can be life threatening.

Narrator: Especially if you have allergy related asthma or serious reactions to certain foods.

Karen DeMuth, MD: Four thousand people with asthma die every year. Roughly 200 people with food allergies die every year.

Narrator: One intriguing myth we came across was an old wives tale that Chihuahuas can take away asthma from a person. Perhaps the misconception has stuck around so long because the small breed does seem to simulate asthma like symptoms.

Stanley Fineman, MD: When they bark or breath you hear a wheeze sound so the conception that oh the chihuahua's getting the asthma is not right.The chihuahua just tends to have that noisy breathing as they get older.

Narrator: Here's another little tidbit we learned. Compounds found in some plug in room deodorizers and candles containing fragrance can inflame symptoms of certain people prone to respiratory allergies or asthma.

Stanley Fineman, MD: What happens with these is that it releases something called volatile organic compounds or V O Cs. The volatile organic compounds cause more inflammation in the airway and the inflammation in the airway can aggravate the symptoms.

Narrator: We've all heard about the health benefits of herbal tea, but if you're allergic to ragweed and have wondered why that warm cup of chamomile in the evening isn't soothing your symptoms take note.

Stanley Fineman, MD: Chamomile tea can cross react with ragweed so patients who are allergic to ragweed may have trouble with their chamomile tea.

Narrator: There is a holistic treatment that can provide relief however.

Stanley Fineman, MD: We do recommend using a sinus rinse or a neti pot or something to basically rinse the nose out when you're having problems with allergies and sinus type problems.

Narrator: The common belief that moving to a different climate will put a halt to your allergy symptoms is probably overstated. Turns out you can run but you can't hide.

Stanley Fineman, MD: At least for a few years you know that's fine that's going to help you, but what is likely to happen is that you're likely to develop allergies to whatever the indigenous plant is in that area.

: sneezing

Narrator: Another familiar myth is that people will outgrow their respiratory allergies.

Karen DeMuth, MD: No. Allergies don't get outgrown. Once you're an allergic person you pretty much stay allergic with the exception of food allergies.

Narrator: However, some with allergies have been able to successfully goose-up their immune systems against their environmental nemeses.

Karen DeMuth, MD: Immuno therapy or allergy shots is the only way that we have to teach the body to tolerate the stuff that the rest of world, who isn't allergic, can tolerate.

Narrator: The success rate of those who have received immunotherapy is about seventy five percent. And that's no myth. For WebMD, I'm Damon Meharg.