Right now, with pollen making its annual springtime assault, there are tons of allergy myths popular on the platform. (Allergies in general are a hot topic at the moment, with one creator even writing an allergy season song to the beat of SZA’s “Big Boy.”) While many of these allergy “cures” are largely unhelpful, it’s understandable why people may turn to them.
- Leslie Gonzalez, LPC, Leslie Gonzalez is a licensed counselor in Bastrop, Texas. Gonzalez specializes in treating behavioral issues, anxiety, grief, and depression.
“I think many people feel that their allergies are getting worse every year and seem to last a lot longer, so they are desperate for advice to help relieve their symptoms,” says Leslie Gonzalez, MD, family medicine physician and Zyrtec partner. It’s true: According to allergists, there’s really no such thing as “allergy season” anymore as allergies have become a year-round struggle for many people.
At the same time, discerning fact from fiction when it comes to your health is vital to your well-being. Dr. Gonzalez shares some examples of bad advice you might see (and good advice to follow instead).
Myth 1: Your allergies are actually a “leaky gut”
Gut health content is also booming on TikTok right now, but, despite what some creators might have you think, it’s not always the cause of all your issues. Dr. Gonzalez explains that malabsorption, where your gastrointestinal tract has difficulty absorbing nutrients from foods, is a thing; however, contrary to some TikTok advice, it’s not the same as an allergy.
“Allergies, both in symptoms and treatment, are completely different,” she says. “Allergies are the result of a chain reaction of chemicals that release histamine in response to allergen exposure that results in the symptoms we commonly experience.”
Additionally, since allergies can quickly turn into sinus infections, she adds, it’s best to treat those symptoms (such as a sore throat, runny nose, congestion that makes breathing difficult, sneezing, or itchy eyes and nose) immediately.
Myth 2: You need to eliminate dairy from your diet
According to Dr. Gonzalez, this tip isn’t completely without merit, just unnecessary, especially to such an extreme point. “Dairy can sometimes cause an increase in mucus in the body,” she says. “I wouldn’t recommend this as a solution for seasonal allergies, but more so something to try if you have a bad cold or cough, as tons of dairy sometimes makes this worse.”
She adds that getting rid of dairy isn’t the key to your itchy, watery eyes; an itchy nose and throat; or similar symptoms (though some fruits and veggies can cause seasonal allergies, FYI!). Side note: Cutting out your favorite yogurts and cheeses won’t make major changes to your gut, either.
Myth 3: A spoonful of local honey is a cure-all
Dr. Gonzalez says this myth is another slippery slope that’s not as helpful as some TikTok creators may have you believe—for a couple of reasons. “If you don’t purchase the correct honey, meaning one that contains the key allergens that you are allergic to (which can be hard to identify), it will not help,” she says. “And even if it is local, raw honey, there’s no guarantee that it will lessen symptoms.” She explains that the type of pollen bees convert into honey typically isn’t the same kind that causes seasonal allergies (namely, trees, grass, and weeds). “Honey is great for tea, on your toast, or even as a treat, but not for allergies!”
Myth 4: Tapping cold items on your face is the answer
Some creators have shared videos of themselves reaching into their fridge or freezer to grab something like a cold soda can or frozen spoon, then tapping it around their eye area. “Rather than putting (likely non-sterilized) items from the fridge/freezer on your face, I’d recommend washing or rinsing your eyes and face regularly throughout the day with cold water or applying a cold compress instead,” Dr. Gonzalez says. “Keeping your face and eye area clean and free of allergens will help way more in the long run than just applying a cool object temporarily.”
So, what are some *actually* helpful allergy tips?
For proven and effective ways to treat your pesky allergy symptoms, Dr. Gonzalez has a few recommendations about what to do instead:
1. Keep your hands and body clean
For the record, we know you’re probably already doing this, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded! Dr. Gonzalez notes that washing up is especially important if you’ve spent any time outdoors. And she encourages changing clothes after doing yard work.
2. Keep your spaces clean and ventilated
Repeat after us (and Dr. Gonzalez): Vacuum daily, dust often. Additionally, she mentions washing bedding regularly and considering reducing fabrics that allergens can bind to. For example, switch out your carpet for hardwood flooring, if you can.
She also encourages improving ventilation and replacing HVAC filters more frequently than recommended, especially when your allergy symptoms hit hardest.
3. Be mindful of when and how long you’re outdoors
When the wind is strong or pollen counts are high—like in the early morning—stay inside if you can, Dr. Gonzalez says. Not sure how to check the pollen count? Dr. Gonzalez suggests Zyrtec’s app AllergyCast, saying it “provides access to personalized allergy forecasts, live pollen counts, and a symptom tracker to help allergy sufferers get ahead of their allergies.”
4. Take medicine as needed
While you don’t need to take medicine preemptively, it’s smart to take ASAP after symptoms pop up. “I recommend that my patients take Zyrtec immediately after the first signs of an allergic response, and then continue to take it throughout the season as needed,” Dr. Gonzalez says. (FYI, Zyrtec is the number-one allergist-recommended brand among over-the-counter oral antihistamines, though others—such as Allegra and Claritin—work, too.)
“[It] starts working at hour one, providing a full 24 hours of prescription-strength relief so allergy sufferers can enjoy the day without having to worry about allergy symptoms getting in the way…and works twice as hard when taken again the next day,” she adds.
Overall, Dr. Gonzalez warns against trusting everything you see on the internet. “Be sure to take advice on there with a grain of salt, and always consult a medical professional for any guidance when it comes to your health.”
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