Allergy symptoms & prevention
Respiratory allergies include seasonal and pet-related allergies, and cause mild symptoms such as itchy eyes, sneezing, nasal congestion, and wheezing. Sometimes, these allergies can also cause a rash and itchy skin.
Preventing respiratory allergies
- Buy a large and quiet high-efficiency (HEPA) air cleaner for your bedroom to help remove airborne allergens.
- Use an air conditioner in your home and car during warm seasons to keep pollen out and reduce indoor humidity (which encourages the growth of molds, mites, and roaches).
- If you have a water leak that can’t be fixed, regularly clean damp areas with a diluted bleach solution to kill molds.
- Always run the exhaust fans when showering and cooking.
- Verify that your clothes dryer is vented to the outside.
- If you become sensitized to dogs or cats, try to find them a new home; otherwise try to keep them groomed regularly, off furniture (especially your bed and pillows), and outside as much as possible.
Respiratory allergy treatment
Treatment for mild allergies includes over-the-counter antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids, or injected corticosteroids or extra-strength allergy pills, which would be administered by a physician. Antihistamines can be taken as pills, liquid, nasal spray, or eye drops, depending on where your respiratory allergy symptoms present themselves.
Allergic reactions to food can present some of the same initial symptoms as respiratory allergies, but can quickly progress to much more serious side effects, including anaphylaxis. If you’ve been exposed to a food allergen, symptoms may include itching in the mouth, swelling of the lips, hives or rash, gastrointestinal symptoms like stomachache, vomiting, or diarrhea, and/or tightening of the throat and trouble breathing.
Preventing food-related allergic reactions
- Find an allergist and have them run a simple allergen test to determine your food allergies and their severity.
- If you know you are allergic to certain foods, always check food labels and ingredients, including checking for hidden triggers, or additives that are known allergens, such as yellow food dye No. 5, “natural” red dye, and gum arabic.
- When eliminating foods from your diet, be sure to find alternate sources of nutrients. For example, if you cannot eat dairy foods, replace with other foods high in calcium or take calcium supplements.
Food allergy treatment
Mild allergic reactions can include rash, congestion, and itchy, watery eyes. If you experience severe itching of the eyes or face that, within minutes, progresses to more serious symptoms or a rash on other parts of the body, your reaction requires immediate medical attention.
If you are aware of a severe food allergy, a licensed physician can prescribe a portable dose of epinephrine, a hormone which can reduce your initial response to an allergen, for you to keep in case of exposure to an allergen. In an emergency, you should always call 9-1-1 immediately.
Severe allergic reactions (anaphylxaxis)
Anaphylaxis is a rare, life-threatening emergency in which the body’s response to the allergen is sudden and affects the whole body. Allergy symptoms may begin with sudden itching of the eyes or face and within minutes progress to more serious symptoms, including:
- Difficulty breathing
- Varying degrees of swelling that can make breathing and swallowing difficult
- Hives, especially those that spread to multiple parts of the body
- Abdominal pain
- Mental confusion or dizziness
- Angioedema, which is severe, generalized swelling of the face, neck, and/or extremities
If you or a family member is experiencing any of the above symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, PLEASE CALL 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY.