Runny nose, watery eyes... Oh, no—it’s hay fever time again! Allergic rhinitis (aka seasonal sniffling) has doubled in each of the last three decades, and about 40 million Americans now have it, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI). Many factors may explain this trend, including air pollution and climate change, says Leonard Bielory, M.D., an allergist at Rutgers University. “Environmental shifts affect the pollination patterns of plants, and irritants in the air can cause inflammation that exacerbates allergies and asthma.” Improved hygiene practices play a role as well. We’re exposed to fewer germs, so our immune systems are more apt to overreact when in contact with allergens.
Whatever the cause, if you’re among those who suffer every spring and fall, you know all too well what this means: discomfort, congestion, and fatigue. It doesn’t help that there’s a lot of misinformation out there about how you should treat, or prevent, an allergy attack. We asked the experts to help debunk eight common misconceptions.