An allergy is when your body reacts to something that is normally harmless, such as pollen, dust, or animal fur. While the symptoms can be mild for some people, they can be very serious for others.
It begins when your immune system mistakenly identifies a typically harmless substance as a dangerous invader. The immune system produces antibodies that remain on high alert for that specific allergen. Upon re-exposure to the allergen, these antibodies can release various immune system chemicals, including histamine, which cause allergy symptoms.
The severity of allergies varies from person to person and can range from minor irritation to anaphylaxis, which is a potentially life-threatening emergency. Although most allergies cannot be cured, treatments can help alleviate allergy symptoms. Here are some allergy hacks to help you cope with your allergies:
1. Confirm it’s an allergy:
Allergies can often be mistaken for other conditions, so it’s important to determine if you are experiencing an allergic reaction. Differentiate between persistent sinusitis symptoms caused by a cold or an allergy. Also, distinguish between a genuine food allergy and food intolerance, as these conditions have distinct differences. Misdiagnosing yourself and using over-the-counter remedies to mask symptoms without addressing the root cause can be counterproductive.
2. Take allergy medication preemptively:
If you experience seasonal hay fever, allergy specialists recommend starting your antihistamine medication before the pollen season begins. This allows you to build tolerance in advance. It is also advisable to take your medication at least 30 minutes before going outdoors. Regularly consult with your healthcare professional to discuss your symptoms. If you feel that your current medication is no longer effectively controlling your symptoms, consider adjusting your dosage or trying a different medication.
3. Maintain cleanliness:
Reducing dust and pollen in your home can significantly improve your allergies. Vacuum frequently, consider replacing carpeted floors with hardwood or tiles, and ensure that often overlooked areas, such as skirting boards, are regularly cleaned. Be vigilant about mold, especially in damp and rainy environments. Additionally, make it a habit to thoroughly clean yourself after spending time outdoors to minimize the amount of pollen you bring indoors.
4. Read food labels carefully:
If you have a food allergy, it is essential to learn how to identify hidden allergens in processed products. While regulations typically require the listing of the top eight food allergens on packaging (milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish), some ingredients may be missed where regulations are less strict. If you are hosting guests, inquire about any allergies beforehand to ensure their safety. If someone informs you of their allergy, be accommodating and avoid cross-contamination, as even small amounts of the allergenic food can trigger a reaction.
5. Identify indoor triggers:
Don’t assume that pollen and dust from outside are the sole culprits of your allergies. Factors like dust mites, pet dander, and mold can exacerbate allergy symptoms. Understand your triggers and take steps to minimize these allergens in your home through regular cleaning. Investing in a dehumidifier can improve your breathing, especially if your allergies are triggered by dust or mold.
6. Consult an allergist if needed:
If you have tried numerous over-the-counter remedies and tips without success, it may be time to seek professional help. Allergy specialists can conduct tests to determine the specific triggers of your allergies and provide appropriate treatment options.
Sources: Allergy Hacks