Allergic reactions can be deadly. It seems more people now are affected by allergies than ever before, whether it is a reaction to insect bites, stings, or food. There are very little doctors can do to help reverse allergies, although some will disappear on their own over time. While there are treatments when suffering an allergic reaction, immediate medical attention is still required. This is not always possible, or people do not understand the severity of reactions enough to get the right care and attention.
Allergies turn deadly within a moment’s notice, so the best thing to do is prevent allergic reactions occurring. That means finding ways to avoid the allergens from coming near a person.
One of the issues with this is you cannot control all outside effects. You cannot manage the food people eat or the insects around you. It is sometimes impossible to know if food or medication includes an ingredient that you are allergic to. And reactions can develop in severity over the years, turning some allergies more serious as you get older.
When you are not the one who suffers from allergies but someone close to you does, you may not even know some of the things you do cause a problem. It is time to figure out the things you can do around you to avoid life-threatening allergic reactions.
Understanding More About Allergies and Reactions
Before you take steps to avoid reactions, you will need to understand more about what allergic reactions are. They are linked to your immune system. The immune system’s job is to protect your body from invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, fungal infections, and more. It does this by creating antibodies against the bad things, but sometimes the immune system gets confused. There are times that it can view something good as harmful and create antibodies against it.
How can that be a problem? Well, the antibodies cause inflammation, sneezing, running noses, etc. The antibodies do not get rid of the elements within the body because they are not harmful and cannot be removed in the way that bacteria and viruses can. That means the immune system continues to create the antibodies until the body has removed the allergens through the waste.
Hay fever is an allergic reaction to pollen but not one of the most serious allergies out there. A lot of people will suffer from a runny nose and itchy eyes because the immune system creating antibodies against the pollen. However, inflammation can cause the chest to constrict and create swelling around the nasal passages. It can be harder for people to breathe properly and cause some fluid build-up in the lungs.
Now you know why allergic reactions occur, it is time to find a way to avoid them.
Avoid the Allergens Entirely
The only sure-fire way to prevent allergic reactions from occurring is to avoid all allergens entirely. While it can initially sound like an impossible task, it really depends on your allergy. If you have a peanut allergy, it is possible to avoid anything that has any trace of the pea (peanuts are not nuts!) or anything that has been prepared in a factory that also makes or prepares peanut products. If you are allergic to certain medications or ingredients that go into medications, you can avoid taking them; just make sure your doctor is aware.
The issue comes when you are affected by the people around you. Severe peanut allergies can mean that you get a reaction from someone else eating peanuts. In this case, you will need to ensure people around you do not have food with the ingredient in. Many schools now have a peanut-free policy or will cut out other ingredients when they have children with known allergies.
While this is the best option, it is not always practical or possible. After all, you can prevent pollen or some insects around you. There are times that individual ingredients are not included on a product label or someone close to you may have baked a cake without knowing about allergies. So, you will need to take some other steps.
Avoid Fragrant Perfumes and Bright Clothing
If insect bites or stings cause allergic reactions, then you will need to find ways to prevent them getting close. Many insects are drawn to scents and colors. Think about how bees will find flowers. They are drawn to the color, shape, and scent. They can be confused by patterns or bright colors that you wear or the strong perfume or lotion you use.
There are theories that lavender prevents insect bites, but there is no scientific proof that’s the case. You are best using an insect repellant and avoiding all perfumed lotions and creams entirely.
Another trick is to wear shoes whenever you are outside. Insects will crawl around in the grass and on paths. What is just a quick run out to grab the washing can turn into a deadly attack without meaning to. The insects do not know about your issues. They are not attacking maliciously but defending themselves or looking for food. Putting shoes on will not stop them biting or stinging, but will prevent the bites and stings breaking the skin and causing the reaction.
It is also worth covering your food if you are enjoying a picnic. The insects can get inside. They can bite your hands as you grab something to eat or sting your mouth while you eat or drink. The stings can react inside the body if the insects have gone undetected. Covering the food will protect it all from the creatures.
Inform Your Doctor of Medication Allergies
This can sound like a silly suggestion at first. Surely your doctor should know about your allergy. While the doctor who has diagnosed your allergy will be aware and it will be in your notes, not all doctors have access to that. You may have a temporary doctor or need to see a doctor out of state or at the hospital. These doctors will not know about your allergy unless you tell them.
It is important to make anybody administering medical care to you aware of your allergy. This includes eye doctors and dentists. For example, if you have a penicillin allergy, you may also be allergic to similar antibiotics. Amoxicillin is one of the most commonly prescribed antibiotics but could turn deadly if you are allergic.
There are times that these types of drugs are necessary. For example, CAT scan contrast dye can cause allergic reactions but without it, the medical test will not be as effective. Your doctor will be able to administer antihistamines, corticosteroid, or another pre-emptive treatment to avoid a dangerous allergic reaction.
Your doctor will also be able to find you alternative medicines to use. While you may be allergic to insulin from animal sources, other forms of insulin may be safe. There is no need to choose between a potentially life-threatening and uncomfortable side effects or protecting your health.
Wear an Awareness Bracelet
Diabetics are recommended to wear a medical alert bracelet. If they suffer from a seizure while out, someone will be able to see that they are diabetic. Medical personnel will be able to make initial judgments and perform the (most likely) right treatment for their need.
However, medical alert bracelets are not just for those with a medical problem. You can also get one for your severe allergy. This is important if the allergy is so severe that being near a food ingredient can cause a reaction.
When you wear a medical alert bracelet, people treating you are more likely to see it. First-aiders are taught to check for these bracelets. Not only can they learn of medical problems but also if you are allergic to the particular medication that they may be about to administer. Paramedics can avoid giving you a medication that could kill you because of the way your body reacts to it.
The great thing about the bracelets is that they do not stand out to passers-by. They are an alert when necessary but look like a beautiful piece of jewelry that blends in daily.
Ask Questions in a Restaurant
When you have a food allergy, you may think that eating out is off the table. This is not necessarily the case. One of the best ways to avoid a life-threatening allergy is by asking questions in a restaurant. Talk to the waiters to find out about the ingredients added in. You do not have to explain why you are asking, but explaining that it is an allergy can help the waiter suggest alternatives and even advise against other dishes on the menu.
You can also ask if you can talk to the chef. The chef will know everything about the food used to create a dish. They will also know all about the food prepared around them, which can help you understand more about contamination risks. Chefs will understand more about alternatives and substitutions to avoid the change in taste or texture.
If you are not worried about whether it is safe to go into the restaurant (depending on the severity of your allergy), you could always ring the restaurant first. The websites will also usually tell you any information you need about allergy advice and steps they take.
Some restaurants have started offering allergen-free foods. They have gluten-free dishes, dairy-free menus, and much more. You can ask for these as soon as you walk in or call to find out if they have them available for your meal. Planning in advance will help the restaurant create the best experience possible for you.
Let Friends Know Ahead of Time
If you are eating at a friend’s house, let them know that you have an allergy. Make sure you do this in advance and never assume that a friend is going to remember. They can throw numerous dinner parties and get allergy information mixed up. Just remind your friends when arranging dinners together.
Real friends are not going to have a problem finding alternatives. They will find out about any other allergies you may have and spend time researching what your allergy is an ingredient in.
Sometimes friends can get assumptions wrong. Despite the word “nut” in coconut, they can overlook that coconuts are nuts. After all, peanuts are not nuts despite the word in the name! Likewise, just because you’ve said you are allergic to peanuts, people may assume you are allergic to all nuts. Let your friends know specifics to help them plan.
If they do include a food with something you are allergic to, just politely let them know. They will be mortified for either mistaking it or not realizing. Have your epi-pen ready just in case your friends have made this mistake.
Read All Packages Carefully
Legally, food sold in stores must have labels that make people aware of allergens. These will be the most common allergens that can turn deadly, such as nuts, gluten, dairy, and eggs. The companies will also need to state if there is the possibility of cross-contamination. Not all companies will make products in allergen-free spaces and there is the risk of nut particles (for example) getting into your nut-free foods.
Make sure you read all packaging carefully. Learn more about how companies will state the allergen information and what it means for you. Look at the list of ingredients too. This will also alert you to the risk of allergens within your food.
You can request family members do the same. This is especially important if you regularly eat with other family members. Before your spouse picks up a dish for you both that night, encourage them to check the labels first. If you have Friday night dinner with the in-laws, let them know about the steps you must take to protect yourself and your children from deadly allergic reactions.
Wash Your Hands Between Dishes
You may not be the one with the allergy, but it may be a child in the house. The allergy may not be so severe that the food must be avoided completely, but accidentally getting a trace of the allergen can be life-threatening. If you cannot avoid the allergen from the house entirely, take steps to avoid cross-contamination.
When making dishes, make sure you wash your hands in between handling an allergen and any other food. Do not prepare the allergens on the same chopping board or workspace as the non-allergen food. You want to keep everything as separate as possible to protect the health of all members of your family.
This also applies to other children in the house. While one child may be allergic to nuts, another one may not and love to eat nuts. The best practice is to avoid nuts altogether, but if you cannot do that then encourage good washing practice among all members of the family.
Take Steps to Protect the Family
It is possible to keep everyone safe. There is no need to bring allergens into the home in most of cases, especially when it involves food. Why risk the health of the person with the life-threatening allergy? What you cannot control is other people.
It is important to let others close to you know about the allergy, especially if they are making your meals. Phone ahead at the restaurants and let the school know about allergies to minimize the risk.