Living with allergies can sometimes feel like you’re always on the lookout for something you can’t control. Whether you’re allergic to gluten, pet dander, or pollen, having an allergy means being proactive in order to reduce your risk of a reaction. That’s why it’s important to recognize the symptoms of your allergies and know how to prevent and treat them.
Common Allergy Symptoms
Reactions can range from mild sniffling to life-threatening asthma. Some of the most common allergy symptoms are:
Skin rashes or hives
Sneezing, coughing, itchy throat and eyes, or a runny nose
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath (possible asthma)
Nausea or an upset stomach
You can become allergic to almost anything, at any age. Overall, there are some allergens that affect more children and adults on average, including:
Environmental (Outdoor): Plant pollen, tree nuts, grass, insect bites or stings.
Foods: Peanuts, eggs, milk, and milk products, shellfish, soy, wheat and gluten
Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen; antibiotics such as amoxicillin, penicillin, and others.
Indoors/Other: Pet hair or dander, dust miles, mold and mildew, latex.
8 Ways to Treat and Prevent Allergy Symptoms
When you’re diagnosed with allergies, you may have to make some lifestyle changes. This may mean being more aware of the foods you eat or how you vacation outdoors. Here are a few ways you can prevent and treat your allergy symptoms:
1. Know Your Triggers
To determine whether or not you have allergies, you should consult a doctor for allergy testing. Being sure what you are allergic to and what your triggers are is the best way to steer clear of allergens that affect your health. You may want to make a running list on your phone to take with you on vacation, especially if you have food allergies. Once you know your triggers, you can form a plan to avoid them or limit your exposure.
2. Clean Your Home Frequently
We bring plenty of outdoor allergens into our homes and live with indoor irritants such as pet dander or dust. A clean home is one of the best ways to ease your symptoms. To keep allergens at bay keep high traffic areas clean. Areas where you and your family spend most time, such as in bedrooms and living rooms, should be kept dust-free. Pay special attention to rooms with high moisture and humidity, such as your bathroom.
In addition to cleaning often, you may want to consider switching to natural products. Harsh chemicals can irritate your nasal passages, your skin, and aggravate your symptoms. Using natural cleaning solutions such as vinegar or baking soda or investing in a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter are all ways to mitigate the risk of an allergy attack.
3. Try Prescription or Over-The-Counter Medicines
There are different antihistamines that are available by prescription and over the counter. These medications help to reduce sneezing, runny noses, itchy throats, and watery eyes — which are all common allergy symptoms. The most common over the counter allergy medicines include Zyrtec, Claritin, and Benadryl. If you find that you aren’t seeking relief from generic medication, you may need a prescription for something stronger. All inhalers require a prescription from your doctor.
In addition to generic antihistamines, prescription steroid nose sprays such as Flonase can help to reduce swelling in the nose. For extremely sensitive or watery eyes, you may want to ask your doctor for an eye drop prescription. This will help to reduce what is referred to as allergic conjunctivitis.
4. Consider Allergy Shots (Allergy Immunotherapy)
Allergy shots can help relieve patients who have tried all other options. Your allergist will administer small amounts of the substances you are allergic to in the form of a shot. While this may seem counterproductive, the idea is that your immune system will become desensitized to the allergens, reducing your symptoms.
5. Keep Windows Closed
If you or a family member has environmental allergies, keeping the window open on a warm day is not the best idea. Even if the pollen count is high, leaving your windows open can expose you to pollen and other allergens entering your home. Stay protected by keeping your windows and screen doors closed, and consider using a HEPA air filter on your air conditioner.
6. Stay Hydrated
If your allergies have left you feeling stuffy, try sipping on some water or tea. The extra liquid can help your body thin the mucus in your nasal passages, and give you some relief. Warm fluids have an additional benefit, as the steam will help to open up your nose.
7. Take Frequent Showers After Being Outdoors
We track a lot of environmental allergens in on our clothes without even seeing them. Pollen, animal dander, and other particles can follow us indoors and cause an instant flare-up. In order to prevent any issues, head straight to the bathroom after returning from a day spent outside. Showering is the best way to ensure your skin is clean. Be sure to leave your shoes in the entryway and put your clothes straight into the hamper!
8. Be Prepared
In the event that you do have an allergic reaction, it’s important to be prepared. Be sure to do each of the following:
Know what to do during an allergic reaction
Wear your medical alert bracelet
Keep an epi-pen on hand