Allergies affect millions of people, so chances are that you know multiple individuals who suffer from them. For most, allergies are mild or seasonal, causing some sniffles and sneezing.
For others, food allergies are the culprit and as long as they avoid the food they’re fine. However, many people suffer from severe allergies that interfere with the quality of their life.
If you have a loved one with severe allergies, you know that avoiding allergens and dealing with symptoms is a constant struggle that requires vigilance and attention. This guide has many tips and strategies for coping with severe allergies and handling difficulties such as an anaphylactic emergency.
Allergies affect people differently and run the gamut from mild to severe. Mild allergies are a discomfort and an inconvenience, but severe allergies can be life-threatening. In order to help a friend or loved one with severe allergies, you must first know his or her allergens so that they can be avoided. Understanding the following is the start to taking care of people with severe allergies.
Once you understand what your loved one’s allergies are, strategically avoid, eliminate or control them by doing the following.
If your loved one’s allergen is dust mites, be proactive. Buy allergy-proof covers for bedding, mattresses and pillows. Mites love to feed on dead skin cells on bedding, which also dig into the mattress. Buying a protective barrier is an important first step. Wash bed linens once a week with hot water.
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Other allergies such as seasonal allergies and pollen are difficult to avoid, as pollen can travel from miles away and your loved one cannot stay inside all day, every day. However, when indoors, keep windows closed and use air conditioning to avoid outdoor allergens.
If your loved one’s allergen is a particular animal’s dander, keep in mind that the proteins found in the dead skin, urine and saliva of cats and dogs are often the culprit. The proteins go up the nose, land on skin and in eyes and are inhaled into the lungs.
The only way to eliminate the allergen is to stay away from the animal and its environment. If the problem is with a household pet, as it often is, and you are unable to part with it, keep the pet out of the bedroom and off of the carpet. Brush the animal regularly outside to get rid of excess hair and skin cells and help prevent shedding.
For mold allergens, use a dehumidifier to keep humidity lower than 50 percent, take care of indoor leaks and apply a bleach cleaning solution to any mold you find. Outdoor mold from vegetation can also become airborne and trigger an allergic reaction.
For all of these allergens and more, an effective allergy treatment proves helpful. While antihistamines, decongestants and nasal steroid sprays won’t cure the allergies, they do help reduce symptoms. Allergy shots or immunotherapy is also effective for many people.
A loved one with severe food allergies must avoid allergy triggers completely, sometimes including cross-contamination, because they are dangerous and sometimes life-threatening. The same allergy can manifest itself differently at different times, so it’s important to not make assumptions that this time it will be fine because it was last time.
Don’t share food. Beware of cross-contamination or second-hand contact with the offending food. Ask questions before ordering things off a menu or digging into a dish at a potluck. It’s always better to not take a chance. Your loved one and you should also wash hands before and after eating.
If your child has a severe allergy, meet with school staff to inform them and make sure you’re all on the same page and everyone is informed. Provide information they may need such as their allergy triggers, medications and emergency treatment plan and contact.
Be able to recognize symptoms of a reaction such as rash, trouble breathing, throat tightness or tingling in the mouth or tongue. Take symptoms seriously and don’t brush them off. They could be signs of anaphylaxis.
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