Allergies often have symptoms that negatively affect your everyday living. Your sleep and energy can be impacted, causing you to lack of concentration and experience mood swings. A lot of times, you suffer from excessive sneezing, coughing and a runny nose. If you learn how to cope with these symptoms, you can have better control on how they affect your life.
How to Deal with Allergies: General Rules to Follow
1. Recognize Allergy Symptoms
Most people discover that they have an allergy when they have some types of allergic reaction which has not been experienced in the past, so it is important to recognize the symptoms. Mild allergic symptoms include:
- Watery and itchy eyes
- Mild cough
- Itchy skin, may transform into hives--swollen areas on skin ranging from small to large welts
2. Look Out for Serious Symptoms
Remember to monitor your symptoms for a couple hours after they begin. Most of the time allergic reactions do not require medical attention and can be managed with OTC medication and home treatments. However, the symptoms can escalate into a serious condition and you should be able to recognize serious symptoms in case they do occur.
Serious symptoms include swelling of tongue or lips, wheezing, shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, persistent coughing, upset stomach, vomiting, unconsciousness and chest pains.
3. Over-the-Counter Antihistamines Can Help
When your reaction is mild, you can often take an over-the-counter antihistamine and find relief for your symptoms. There are several types to choose from, common antihistamines include Claritin, Benadryl, Allegra and Zyrtec. Before you start taking any of these medications, speak to your doctor about possible side effects, sensitivities and if they might interact with any other medications you are taking.
4. OTC Hydrocortisone Cream Helps with Hives and Itching
When you suffer from itching and hives, you can find relief from over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream at drug stores. It is important to make sure you are not taking any other medications with hydrocortisone, as the medication is absorbed through the skin and you can experience an overdose. Or you can get stronger, prescription strength creams from your doctor if OTC hydrocortisone does not relieve your symptoms. If you do not have immediate access to anti-itch cream, try administering a cold towel on your hives until then.
5. See an Allergist
It is important to see an allergist who can show you how to deal with allergies and what treatments might work for you. You will most likely go through tests to pinpoint what is causing your reaction. You may leave with a prescription for allergy medication or you may get an allergy shot in the doctor’s office.
How to Deal with Specific Allergies
1. Pollen or Mold Allergies
When you suffer from mold or pollen allergies, you can help manage them by tracking current counts. By doing so you can determine if you need to skip outdoor activities or adjust your allergy medication dosage based on the instructions of your allergist.
There are additional things you can do to help your allergies:
- Stay indoors as much as possible when mold or pollen counts are high.
- When you are working outdoor or in areas where there is a lot of dust, wear a dust mask found in most hardware stores.
- Instead of hanging clothes outside to dry, use an indoor clothes dryer.
- Often replace your home air filters.
- Plan vacations so that you avoid areas of high counts during your time of travel.
- If you are planning on moving, speak with your allergist about where you are considering going and whether you might experience allergies in that area as well.
Click here for more information on pollen and mold allergies, as well as medications, diagnosis, medications and immunotherapy for symptoms.
2. Pet Allergies
Even if you have allergic reactions to your pet, you can find a way to live together by learning how to deal with allergies as long as your symptoms are not severe. Things you can try include:
- Create a room that is off-limits to your pet. It is often referred to as an “allergy free” zone. Make sure to use a cover for the mattress and pillow that restricts allergens from reaching them. Also, use a HEPA cleaner to keep the air free of contaminants.
- Make sure to give your pet a bath every week with a safe shampoo. By bathing your dog or cat regularly, you can reduce dander which is known to trigger allergies.
- Clean and dust your house frequently. HEPA cleaners will help keep the whole home free of allergens. Also, wash your pet’s areas and bed on a weekly basis.
- You can also try medical treatments like allergy shots, antihistamine medications or allergy sprays containing an antihistamine and steroid.
3. Food Allergies
While there are several types of food allergies, the most common include allergic reactions to peanuts and nuts, milk and dairy, eggs, and shellfish like crab, shrimp, lobster and crayfish.
Because allergic reactions to certain foods can be very severe, manufacturers are required by law to include all ingredients on packaging, including the possibility of cross contamination. An example would be something like, “This product was processed on equipment that also processes peanuts.” If you are unsure, avoid the food. Other ways on how to deal with allergies to foods include:
- Do not eat foods that have the risk of cross contamination.
- Stay away from buffets.
- Keep a record of what you are eating and your reaction.
- Wear a medical advisory band identifying your allergy and emergency contacts.
- If your child suffers food allergies, inform all his teachers and caregivers with detailed instructions on how to handle an adverse reaction.
- Always tell a server at a restaurant if you are allergic to an ingredient.
- Always carry your epinephrine pen (EpiPen) if you are prescribed one and make sure it is not expired. If you can, carry two in case one does not work.
- Dial 911 immediately after using an EpiPen on yourself or another.
For more information on food allergies, click here.