What to Put in an Allergy Emergency Kit
No one knows why some people get allergies while others don't. In extreme cases, they can be deadly, especially when compared with a respiratory problem like asthma, and at the very least, they make you miserable.
Allergies are the result of your immune system reacting powerfully to an otherwise harmless substances like dust, pollen, some types of food and animal dander, and other things, so the best way to avoid an allergic attack is to avoid allergens. If you 're having multiple allergic symptoms but can't figure the triggers out, visit a doctor for testing.
Basic Emergency Allergy Medications
Regardless of the type of allergic reaction you suffer from, these three basic medications will help bring the initial flare of serious symptoms down enough to at least buy enough time to get to emergency care.
Allergic reactions happen when our bodies produce too many histamines in response to exposure to the allergen. Antihistamines block the receptors that allow the naturally occurring histamines to work.
- Prednizone Or Other Corticosteroid
These types of steroids stop inflammation that can't be controlled by stopping the histamines. They're often prescribed for people with ongoing asthma complications.
This is another histamine blocker, but it also helps reduce stomach acid, which can contribute to the problem.
Be aware that usually the antihistamine will do the trick, but if you're in the middle of a hiking trip, or not within easy reach of emergency services, these three medications can help immensely.
However, if you're already on medication of any kind or have suffered allergies to any of them, consult your doctor, before adding them to your emergency kit.
Why do we get allergies?
Respiratory System Allergies
Although springtime is when most peoples' allergies crop up, respiratory allergies can cause problems year round. Warmer weather is simply more likely to aggravate these miserable responses because pollen is released by plants, pets begin shedding their winter coats and all sorts of animals become active again.
Until recently, there was an over the counter inhaler available under the name of Primatine Mist. Now, you need a prescription for an emergency inhaler. If you need one, make sure it's up to date, full enough to use and clean.
- Nasal Spray
One of the most irritating allergy symptoms is sinus congestion. Nasal spray can help drain the mucus built up in the sinuses and relieve some of the pressure. Pair that with an antiinflammatory and sinus pressure will become a thing of the past.
- Neti Pot
The neti pot is an ancient way to clear the sinuses out, and it can help shorten the allergy attack by getting rid of contaminants. Although this method has the least likelihood of side effects, make sure to use warm, distilled water and wash the pot thoroughly after each use to minimize the possibility of infection.
Over the counter decongestants work similarly to nasal sprays and neti pots, but they can cause sleepiness.
Before using any of these methods, read their labels and use them according to the directions given.
Hives and Skin Allergies
Breaking into hives or having another type of dermatitis outbreak is at least annoying and at worst excruciating. It's possible to break out during high pollen days or upon contact with an animal that you're allergic to, but usually this happens after touching a plant like poison ivy or stinging nettle.
The very first thing you need to do after exposure is to wash the area thoroughly, but gently. Removing the allergen as quickly as possible will minimize the outbreak, but you don't want to irritate the skin any more than it already is.
- Cortizone or Benadryl Cream
Once the skin is clean and dry, apply either one of these creams. They'll stop the histamine reaction, which should reduce itching and swelling.
- Epsom Salt
Sometimes, soaking the appendage in a saltwater bath will help draw swelling and toxins from the skin.
- Antibacterial/Antipain Cream
If the skin has been broken, you'll need to watch for infection. Antibacterial creams will cut down chances of infection during the healing process.
- Aloe Vera
This soothing plant has been used for centuries in healing skin problems, such as rashes, minor injuries and sunburn. In addition to its healing properties, it also cools and soothes the skin.
- Cold Compress
To treat the inflammation, cold compresses can be very helpful in the beginning stages of the allergic reaction.
If the rash gets worse or doesn't improve within a week or two, consult a doctor.
Insect Bites and Stings
Bee stings and other insect bites can be serious in individuals who are allergic to them, but most bites usually do nothing more than itch. However, as in the case of mosquitoes, there will probably be far more than only one bite to worry about.
If you know you or a loved one has an allergy to bees, you should keep at least two epipens available at all times. This is just in case the first one fails to work for some reason, or the allergy is severe enough to require a bigger dose after a few hours. Even after the medication is administered, get the person to a doctor just in case.
- Tea Tree Oil
I discovered this remedy a number of years ago when I was on a walk in the woods of upstate New York. Every summer, my blood is the blue plate special for mosquitoes, and I rarely go without fewer than five bites at any given time. That day, I only had a bottle of tea tree oil on hand, so I figured I'd dab it on. Lo and behold, the itch went away, and the bugs didn't bother me any more!
This solution comes in pen form, and is also extremely good for treating bug bites. It takes the itch away as soon as you put it on.
- Cool Compress
Like with skin allergies, a cool compress will help take some of the swelling out of the bite area.
Unfortunately, insects like mosquitoes and ticks also carry disease. Make sure that you're well versed in symptoms of any insect born illnesses in your area. Generally, the sooner you can get treatment, the better off you'll be.
Also, be aware of any poisonous insects in your region. Areas in the northern United States, for example, host black widows and brown recluse spiders. If a bite seems severe or you start experiencing symptoms like fever, chest pains, nausea, fainting or weakness, get medical attention as soon as possible.
If you can, capture the spider (safely!), so the medical professional can administer the correct treatment.
What Are Food Allergies?
Food allergies are also very common. In addition to avoiding the foods you're allergic to, it's advisable to carry an epipen and keep liquid antihistamine on hand for severe reactions. If you're allergic to multiple foods, make sure to keep your nutritional levels balanced.
If you have asthma, always keep your rescue inhaler within reach when going to places like buffets or anywhere food may get mixed.
Long Term Allergy Remedies
Allergy attacks can be extremely unpleasant, but they can be avoided, or at least lessened.
This type of tea is made from dried stinging nettle. Stinging nettle causes the reaction it does because the hairs that coat its leaves transit histamine directly into the skin. When the leaves are dried, those hairs fall out, but the histamine remains. Drinking tea made out of stinging nettle transmits just enough of that histamine into your system and prompts your body to create just enough antihistamine to combat allergic reactions. It works wonders when used correctly.
Regular House Cleaning
If you suffer from dust and dander allergies, cleaning your home regularly won't give the allergens a chance to collect enough to cause problems.
There are many air filters available in the market. Some of them attach to your home's furnace, but the majority of them are freestanding. If you decide to give one a try, remember to change the filter on the machine according to the manufacturer's guidelines.
Monitor Pollen Levels
Some web pages, like weather.com offer information about daily pollen counts, so you can plan your days accordingly. There are also a number of apps available which will feed pollen levels directly to your mobile device.
As difficult as it can be to live with allergies, being well prepared will allow you to live the life you'd like without sacrificing your health.
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