Allergies in the Family: Coping Strategies and Tips

Eye drops, nasal sprays, antihistamines, carrying your EpiPen wherever you go, avoiding certain environments like the plague, avoiding beloved pets or meticulously scanning ingredient lists for just about every food product you consume. All this and more are just another part of everyday life for people with allergies.

Allergies might be the single most annoying facet of day-to-day life for many. Sadly for others it can even become deadly if not treated.

Allergies involve our immune systems overreacting to a stimulus by producing histamine. In turn, this elicits a visceral bodily response that can include itchy eyes, a running nose, coughing, sneezing, hives or itchy skin, or even more extreme responses such as asthma and difficulty breathing. More extreme reactions, or anaphylaxis can require the use of an EpiPen (an injection containing the drug epinephrine) or even admission to hospital depending on the severity of the reaction.   

A 2021 national health survey found that more than a quarter of all adults and children across the US have a seasonal allergy such as hay fever. What’s more, numerous studies show that allergies are generally on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a 50 per cent increase in the prevalence of food allergies in children, from the year 1997 to 2011.

A global increase in allergies is supposedly due to a number of factors. These include the ‘hygiene theory’, or the notion that the human race is not as exposed to pathogens as what we used to be (in the cleaner modern world). Other theories include an increase in the use of antibiotics, increased obesity and exposure to more processed foods containing less fiber. Nowadays populations also possess a greater vitamin D deficiency caused by spending less time outdoors than past generations. This is another theorized cause of the increase in allergies.  

Every year 200,000 people in the U.S. require emergency medical care for allergy-related reactions, in what creates heavy demand on the national healthcare system. Health practitioners play a key part in treating patients that suffer from severe allergic reactions. Courses like online nurse practitioner programs in Texas can create opportunities for aspiring medics to assist this high demand for care.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov:

For less vital care, medication and prevention strategies are often the key to living with allergies. So what are the best tips and tricks to living with allergies?

Prevention (and common sense) is Key

If you need to medicate daily to prevent flare ups, break outs and other allergy symptoms in order to get a greater enjoyment of life, then you should make this a part of your daily routine – so long as you don’t suffer from medicinal side effects.

Prevention also includes avoiding exposure to the stimulus and that’s where common sense also comes into play. Avoiding spending too much time outdoors or in certain weather is imperative if you suffer from hay fever, for example. Not rolling around or lying in grass if you have a grass allergy helps. Not cuddling cats (or minimally if your allergy is mild) if you have a cat allergy and always being sure not to touch your face afterwards and to wash your hands thoroughly, are other forms of prevention.

Having a food allergy can be particularly tricky as you might need to consistently read ingredients lists, avoid many foods in general and always discuss your intolerance when dining out, such as if you suffer from celiac disease (severe intolerance to gluten). However these prevention steps are necessary, until the day hopefully comes where there’s a cure.

Understand your Triggers and Arm Up

Avoidance and prevention are your dear friends, however, we also understand that sometimes situations and circumstances are out of our control. As they say sometimes s*it happens. A lack of control of these circumstances may be particularly prevalent when traveling for example. Always, always, ALWAYS carry your medication. This is especially imperative for people who suffer from severe allergies. If exposure to the stimulant can mean a trip to the hospital, and if not treated, can even lead to death, you’ll understand the necessity for you to carry your EpiPen with you at all times. If you don’t know your exact triggers it’s a good idea to see your GP and get tested.

Allergies are an unfortunate part of life, affecting the day-to-day lives of so many people – adults and children alike. It’s important to prevent as much exposure to the irritant as possible; taking preventative medications if needed and avoiding the stimulant; taking into account common sense at all times. You should also possess a deep understanding of your triggers and arm yourself at all times with medication – especially if your allergies are severe.

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