Myth: Mattress covers can help cut down on allergic symptoms
Fact: If you're allergic to dust mites, a mattress cover doesn't guarantee you'll sleep any easier.
After analyzing the results of 24 clinical trials, researchers from Tulane University's school of public health and tropical medicine found no significant difference in symptoms such as wheezing, runny nose and asthma attacks between allergy sufferers who used mattress covers and those who skipped them. According to the 2014 study, which was published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, mattress covers don't appear to lower dust mite levels enough to improve allergy symptoms.
Despite the research, Martin believes mattress covers can be one part of an overall strategy to reduce our exposure to dust mites, which unfortunately like to live in our mattress and pillows.
Myth: Allergies are worse in some cities and states
Fact: There is a grain of truth to this: Certain allergens are more prevalent in certain regions; however, a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in February debunked a long-standing myth that where you live is a significant contributor to the likelihood you'll suffer from allergies.
"The percentage of people who have allergies doesn't change from one region of the country to another; what differs is what people are allergic to," explains Darryl Zeldin, M.D., coauthor of the study and scientific director at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Zeldin believes that allergy sufferers are predisposed to developing allergies regardless of their environment.
Myth: Medicine is the only way to decrease allergy symptoms
Fact: Learning to lower your stress can also help. The higher your perceived stress levels, the worse your allergy symptoms, according to a study published in the April issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. "There is a clear link between the neurologic and immunologic symptoms," says David Stukus, M.D., a Columbus, Ohio-based allergist and immunologist and member of the board of directors for the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America. It appears that, "the more stressed out you are, the harder it can be for your body to respond to allergens, making your symptoms more severe."
Stukus recommends stress reduction techniques such as sleep, exercise and a healthy diet which may minimize the frequency and severity of allergy flares. Meditation or yoga could also help relieve stress.
Next page: Can you outgrow allergies? »