Fact or fiction? Top 5 truths about allergies you need to know

Medically reviewed by Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD on March 25, 2020. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.


Even though more than 50 million Americans across the U.S. suffer from allergy symptoms each year, there’s still quite a bit about allergies that remains a mystery to many of us.


While you can find an allergies list online with different possible allergens, it can help to know that many people suffer from seasonal allergies due to dust mites, dander, or pollen. To better understand your response to certain indoor and outdoor allergens, start with taking our allergy test.


Are there certain cities to avoid during allergy season? Can you even go outside when pollen counts are high? And, what’s the deal with hypoallergenic pets? Can you be allergic to hypoallergenic dogs?

For the answers to these questions and several allergy facts—plus a few allergy myths debunked—read on.



[![Everlywell](//images.ctfassets.net/ut7rzv8yehpf/61Mw9PPbNDpIBpbNk5X6UI/81c96f60b8f134a1e2b1c6ca64e23fea/BlogCTA_v3.jpg)](https://www.everlywell.com/products/)

Myth #1: Some cats and dogs are truly hypoallergenic

Unfortunately, contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic cat or dog. Though some breeds produce less dander than others (which can lower your chances of developing an allergic reaction), all dogs and cats have some type of dander. Yes, that even includes hairless cats, which brings us to our next myth.

Myth #2: Dander is another term for pet hair or fur

What is dander and how can it cause an allergic reaction? When people think of “dander,” they most often think of pet hair or fur, but in fact, the two are not synonymous. Pet dander is actually the dead skin cells on pets. So, if you’re reactive to cats or dogs, chances are, you may not be reacting to their hair or fur alone. You could be reacting to the proteins in the pet's urine, saliva, or dander, aka the dead skin cells just mentioned.

Myth #3: The only way to avoid outdoor allergens during peak season is to stay inside

Not true! Pollen counts are actually the highest in the morning between 5 and 10 a.m., so if you’re trying to reduce your exposure to outdoor allergens like trees and grasses, try switching up your routine. Switching up your routine can help reduce symptoms of seasonal allergies. Plan outdoor activities for later in the afternoon or evening. There are still plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors.


Fact: The “allergy capital” of the U.S. is McAllen, Texas

Yep, that’s correct. The town of McAllen, Texas, is the biggest allergy city to watch out for. This southern Texas city was named the top allergy capital of 2018, based on a report by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).

The study looked at these 3 factors:

  • Higher than average pollen in the area
  • Higher than average medicine use
  • Lower availability of board-certified allergists

The other top 4 capitals? Louisville, Ky.; Jackson, Miss.; San Antonio, Texas; and Dayton, Ohio. If you plan on visiting any of these cities during spring or fall, just be sure to check pollen counts beforehand and plan ahead when thinking about your outdoor activities. (Check out our helpful tips to learn how to relieve allergies by reducing your allergen exposure.)

Fact: Ragweed is one of the top allergens to watch for

Ragweed is a common weed that grows throughout the U.S. Although each plant lives only one season, that one plant can produce up to 1 billion pollen grains. Seventy-five percent of people reactive to pollen are also allergic to ragweed, a big cause of allergic rhinitis, also known as “hay fever.”3 (Hay fever occurs when the immune system overreacts to the pollen of trees, grasses, and weeds.) There are 17 different types of ragweed in North America alone.

Similar to trees and grasses, weed pollen can easily spread by the wind, so be aware of breezy days if you’re reactive to ragweed. Ragweed pollen has been known to travel up to 400 miles3. Crazy right?


Not sure what types of allergens you’re reactive to?

Test for 40 common indoor and outdoor allergens with our at-home allergy test.

With the Everlywell Indoor & Outdoor Allergy Test, you can start understanding what allergens affect you so you can plan what to do next. Although allergies are here to stay, staying informed about them is key to making it through the season.


Indoor vs. outdoor allergies: top tips for managing symptoms

We’re exposing indoor and outdoor allergies

Is it a cold or allergies?

Pet allergies: causes, symptoms, and remedies

5 ways to prevent dust mite allergies

How to welcome the spring season without the allergy attacks

Indoor and outdoor airborne allergens: what are they and how to prevent them


References

1. Pet Allergy: Are You Allergic to Dogs or Cats? Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. URL. Accessed March 26, 2020.

2. Allergic to your pet? Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America. URL. Accessed March 20, 2020.

3. Pollen. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. URL. Accessed March 26, 2020.

4. Fall allergy capitals 2018. Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America.
URL. Accessed March 19, 2020.

5. Ragweed Pollen Allergy. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. URL. Accessed March 26, 2020.

6. Ragweed pollen allergy. Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America. URL. Accessed March 20, 2020.

Everlywell makes lab testing easy and convenient with at-home collection and digital results in days. Learn More