What should I do if I have an allergy?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Allergies are most easily maintained by avoiding or limiting exposure to known allergens and triggers. If you're allergic to dust, keep your house as dust-free as possible by removing items that collect dust and vacuuming often. If you're allergic to mangos, avoid eating or handling mangos. You can manage symptoms by taking daily medications such as antihistamines.

The most important part of managing skin allergies on a daily basis is knowing and avoiding the particular allergens that cause a reaction. If it's impossible to avoid the allergen, which can happen due to work requirements, wear protective clothing such as gloves. If contact with the allergen does occur, wash the area thoroughly to get any irritating chemicals off the skin's surface as soon as possible. Try not to scratch itchy rashes or hives, since that can further irritate the skin. Instead, apply appropriate topical steroids or take oral antihistamines to reduce the symptoms of the allergic reaction.

When taking care of someone with allergies, know the basics of their reactions: what are they allergic to, what symptoms do they have and what treatments are best. If possible, try to create an environment that is free of their particular allergen. In the case of severe allergies, you should also have an epinephrine syringe and know how and when to use it. For example, an epinephrine syringe should not be injected into a vein or the buttocks. After injection the person should get medical help right away; epinephrine helps stop the anaphylaxis but is not a substitute for medical care.

Dr. Paul M. Ehrlich, MD
Allergist & Immunologist

Because the science of allergy is very involved and rapidly developing, and because commonly available medical treatment can fall wide of the mark, patients and patients' parents in their frustration are susceptible to misleading or false advice. Poorly supervised support groups are greenhouses for quack solutions and they grow like weeds. How can you tell a good group from a bad group? Talk about it with your specialist. But as a rule of thumb, avoid recommendations that endorse a magic bullet solution, that leave out hard science, that overemphasize certain foods, or that depend on tests chosen according to what your insurance will pay for.

Asthma Allergies Children: A Parent's Guide

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Asthma Allergies Children: A Parent's Guide

Asthma and allergies are at epidemic proportions. It doesn't have to be that way. Two experienced pediatric allergists tell everything a conscientious parent needs to know about these conditions,...

Allergies can't be cured, but they can be managed. Your first step is to try to identify the trigger for your allergic response. For example, a rash may develop when you start using a new laundry detergent, hives may appear when you eat strawberries, or your nose may start running when someone cuts the grass. Once you've identified the trigger, you can take steps to avoid it. But it's not always possible to discover the source of all allergic reactions, and even if you do discover your triggers, you may not be able to completely avoid them.

If avoidance isn't possible, a range of medications (some available only by prescription and some available over the counter) can, by and large, alleviate most symptoms. Certainly anyone who suffers from anything more than mildly irritating seasonal allergies should consult a doctor.

To manage your allergies, stop pollen from entering your home by following these simple tips:

  • Use the dryer rather than outdoor clothing lines for laundry such as bedding and towels.
  • While a nice cross-draft could lower the power bill, those open windows are inviting pollen in. Try to keep the windows closed and just use the fans in your home.
  • Wipe down countertops and surfaces on a daily basis to get rid of any pollen that did come in, and prevent it from building up.
  • Give pets a good brushing and wipe down before bringing them back inside.

Also, when driving, do not ride with the windows down, and wear sunglasses to keep pollen out of your eyes. After being outdoors, immediately take a shower and wash your hair to get all the pollen off of you and to keep it from settling into your house.

You can also take over-the-counter medication such as Allegra, Benadryl, Claritin or Zyrtec. If these don’t work, talk to your primary care doctor about other treatment options for your allergies.

This content originally appeared on StoneCrest Family Physician's Blog.

Intermountain Registered Dietitians
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Allergies usually can't be cured, though some children outgrow them. There are things you can do to avoid or treat the symptoms. If you think you have an allergy, do these things:

Visit your doctor or clinic. A doctor can help you know if you have an allergy. A doctor can also tell you how to ease symptoms. Sometimes a doctor will prescribe medicine or allergy shots.

Stay away from things you are allergic to. This can ease your symptoms. Here are some ideas:

  • Pollen. Shower or bathe every night to wash off pollen. Avoid going outside on dry, windy days. Keep your windows and doors shut. Keep your lawn cut short. Change your furnace filters monthly.
  • Mold. If you have a mold problem in your house, remove whatever is moldy. Get rid of your swamp cooler or houseplants. Replace moldy drywall. Always use a cleaner with bleach to clean moist areas like the bathroom.
  • Dust mites. Get rid of your swamp cooler if you have one. Wash all bedding in very hot water once a week or more. Wipe down furniture with a damp cloth twice a month. Put filters over heat vents.
  • Animals. Don't stay in a house with a pet you are allergic to. If the pet is yours, keep it out of the bedroom. If your allergies are very bad, find another home for your pet. Some types of dogs, cats and other animals shed fewer allergens. If you must have a pet, ask about those types.
  • Medicine. If your doctor has prescribed medicine, take it as directed. Many helpful medicines don't need a doctor's prescription. You can buy them at a pharmacy or grocery store. Look for medicines that say "antihistamine." Some newer types of antihistamines don't make you sleepy and may be better to use. Ask your pharmacist to help you choose.
  • Nose sprays or eyedrops. Sometimes your doctor may suggest nose sprays or eyedrops to help your symptoms. Follow your doctor's directions for how to use these safely.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.