By Adem Lewis / in , /

Hi, I’m Elliott. This is Mental Floss on
YouTube, and today I’m going to talk about some misconceptions about allergies. Misconception #1: Blood tests are the best
way to determine food allergies. Actually, 50-60% of blood tests will give
a false positive result when it comes to food allergies. The best way to find out if someone
is allergic to food is through a test called an Oral Food Challenge. Which I know sounds
like a challenge that some YouTuber made up, but I promise it’s real! In an OFC, an allergist
feeds their patient small doses of whichever food is thought to be an allergen. After observation,
the dose is increased. This gets repeated. Of course, if a reaction shows, the patient
gets treated. And if there’s no reaction, then there’s no allergy. Congratulations! Misconception #2: Food allergies are uncommon.
According to the Food Allergy Research and Education organization, 15 million people
in the United States suffer from a food allergy. Even more surprising is that one in thirteen
kids has one. In case you’re starting to wonder if YOU may be one of those people,
I’ll let you know what you should look out for. 90% of food allergies are of one of these
eight foods: milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. Misconception #3: Penicillin allergies are
common. You might THINK you’re allergic to penicillin,
just like one in 10 adults who claim to be, but don’t be so sure. In a study done at
the Cleveland Clinic, 21 of 24 patients who said that they were allergic to penicillin
received negative results when they were given a skin test. So, almost 90% of them were wrong
about their allergy. This is probably because they had a reaction to the drug when they
were younger. But, allergies sometimes just go away, which brings me to… Misconception #4: Allergies are for life.
Some people develop allergies as they get older. On the other hand, some people just
outgrow allergies. In fact, over a quarter of children in the U.S. outgrow their food
allergies. It typically happens before they turn ten-years-old, but it could happen at
any time. Misconception #5: People who are allergic
to shellfish can’t do CT scans. Some people believe that their shellfish allergy
means they shouldn’t have a Computerized Tomography scan. Before a CT scan, a patient
must ingest or be given a dye, or contrast, which contains iodine. Shellfish also contains
iodine. But studies show that people who are allergic to shellfish are actually intolerant
of proteins in the animals rather than iodine. But, some doctors still will avoid giving
these patients a contrast with iodine in it. Misconception #6: Babies shouldn’t be given
allergenic foods before they turn one. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology
recommends exactly the opposite. They claim that giving babies food like peanut butter,
fish, and eggs, when they’re 4-6 months old, might actually help prevent future food
allergies. But, this is a relatively new finding and it hasn’t been thoroughly studied. So,
if you have a baby, you should probably just like, talk to your doctor, okay, and see what
they say about this kind of stuff. They’re usually very smart, they went to a lot of
school. Misconception #7: Allergic reactions come
from allergens. You can actually blame your immune system
for those pesky hives. Once your body inhales, eats, or comes into contact with an allergen,
the immune system misidentifies it as this harmful substance. Then, it makes antibodies,
which attack the allergen. So, the allergen isn’t attacking your body; it’s actually
the other way around. Misconception #8: You know how you’ll react
to an allergen. Allergies are unpredictable. Someone who usually
has a minor intolerance to an allergen still risks a more serious reaction, like anaphylaxis. Misconception #9: Animal hair is an allergen.
If you’re allergic to an animal, it’s probably their dander, saliva, and/or urine
– gross – that’s giving you trouble. Dander gets shed from the body and it’s made of
skin cells. And it contains proteins that some immune systems don’t like. But, I should
mention that animal hair can contain dander or other allergens including pollen and dust.
So, it’s still worth vacuuming, like once every… always. Always vacuum. Misconception #10: Medication is the only
way to treat allergies. Some other treatment options include shots
and sublingual immunotherapy. Or, if your allergies are seasonal or related to your
home, you could try, like a humidifier or getting rid of your carpet. Or your dog. Thanks for watching Misconceptions on Mental
Floss on YouTube, which is made with the help of all of these nice people. If you have a
topic for an upcoming Misconceptions episode that you’d like to see, leave it in comments.
See you next week!

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