In recognition of Allergy Awareness Week for April 2021, we will look at the most common allergies affecting our country. We will also provide you with a few tips on how to avoid allergic reactions and deal with allergy episodes if they arise. Let’s cover the basics first; what is an allergy?
An allergy is the representation of an immune system response. This response occurs when our immune system identifies a foreign matter that is sometimes harmful and may cause illnesses. We refer to these foreign bodies as allergens. Some examples are certain foods, pet dander, flowers, or pollen. Unfortunately, allergies are incurable; they, however, can be managed through prevention and proper treatment. Some allergies may cause sneezing, itching, runny nose and eyes, swollen tongue or throat, hives, etc.
Most Common Allergies
Allergies are one of the most common conditions within the United States. The reactions often are neglected since, in many instances, they do not pose a severe threat to one’s life. However, every year, over fifty (50) million Americans get affected by several allergy types. In fact, the 6th most prominent cause of chronic illnesses within the country is allergy.
Some of the most common allergies include:
- Food allergies: soy, nuts, shellfish.
- Allergic Rhinitis:8% of American adults have hay fever.
- Medication allergy mainly to penicillin.
- Insect bites and stings: from bees, wasps, ants, etc.
- Pet hair and dander: can trigger numerous allergic reactions.
Avoiding Allergic Reactions
It is best to create an allergy management plan with your primary care provider. Allergy management plans are instrumental in preventing and controlling reactions. Here are some other ways to prevent allergic reactions:
- Avoid all known allergens: we know this is sometimes quite challenging, but it is an essential preventative measure. Decrease your interaction with an allergen on occasions when avoiding it altogether is impossible.
- Always check meal ingredients when eating out.
- When possible, use specific pots, plates, cutting boards, utensils, etc., to prevent introducing the allergen to other foods.
- Stay away from animals with fur; for example, before visiting a loved one, ask if they have pets.
- Always give your doctor or nurse a list of medications that you have reacted to in the past, no matter how long ago it was or how simple the reaction.
Managing Allergic Reactions
Knowing when you or someone around you is experiencing an allergic reaction is crucial to responding appropriately and promptly. If you have frequent allergy episodes, we advise that you wear a medical necklace or bracelet that states what your allergy is, in case during the reaction you become unresponsive or unable to speak. Also, persons who have severe reactions should walk with their epinephrine auto-injectors, all day every day.
If you have food allergies, whenever you go somewhere, having a diary is ideal. It allows you to keep up-to-date with everything you have touched and eaten, making it easier to narrow down the possible allergen. When there is an active reaction, if it is getting worse, call 911 immediately. It is best to use emergency services in these situations because on the way to the hospital, the person may require additional attention that you will have to pull over to provide.
We know that it is challenging to navigate life when you are affected by allergies. As such, we hope that the information provided here today helps you better manage your day-to-day activities. Remember, avoid when you can and decrease contact when you can’t!
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