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Allergy Prevention

To prevent negative reactions, allergies prevention is key.

Allergy Prevention

Allergy prevention is essential for patients suffering from any type of allergy. Stopping attacks before they occur is preferable to managing the symptoms of an attack, since symptoms are often quite annoying, if not debilitating. It's much harder to treat allergic symptoms than it is to prevent them, and it can also be more costly.

Keep the House Clean

Many patients report experiencing allergy attacks while indoors. A number of allergens exist inside the home, including dust mites, pet dander, mold and cockroach droppings. By keeping the house clean, patients can significantly cut down on the number of attacks they have indoors.

The Mayo Clinic has made quite a few suggestions for cleaning the house. Patients can reduce indoor allergens by cleaning the following areas:

  • The bedrooms: Bed sheets, pillow cases and comforters can all be washed on a regular basis to decrease reactions to dust mites. Since carpeting can trap allergens, replacing it with tile or wood flooring can help keep allergens at bay.
  • The kitchen: Throwing away expired food can help reduce mold production. Putting food items into cabinets or the refrigerator will keep pests away and help those with allergies to cockroaches and ants. Sealed containers will help if food must be stored on the counter top.
  • The living areas: Vacuuming regularly will keep pet dander to a minimum as well as pick up any sort of allergens that may have been tracked in from outside. Smoking cigarettes outdoors instead of inside can help when a member of the household is allergic to smoke. Wiping furniture down with a wet rag will remove dust that has formed. Note that using a feather duster can spread dust around and disperse it into the air rather than remove it.
  • The bathrooms: Using a bleach mixture to clean bathtub tile, grout lines and sink fixtures will prevent mildew from forming.

Avoid Triggers

For patients who are extremely allergic to indoor allergens, avoiding triggers is the ideal way to minimize attacks. Going to places that expose patients to these allergens is indeed a health hazard and they should take caution to avoid these places. For example, if a patient is very allergic to cats and will have a severe reaction when exposed to them, staying away from homes with cats is the best way to handle this. If a patient is allergic to dust mites, avoiding the homes of friends who don't clean very often is a reasonable way to prevent an attack. Patients should share the fact that they have allergies so that friends and family can do what they can to help out.

Outdoor allergens are harder to avoid. In particular, people who have springtime allergies may be especially sensitive to pollen, but staying inside the house every day is not usually a valid option. Patients with this type of allergy can check the pollen forecast to see how abundant pollen is on a given day and can structure outings around the forecast. This works best for extracurricular-type activities, especially outdoor activities like hiking, camping and taking children to the park. In situations where going out cannot be avoided, preventing an attack by taking an over-the-counter medication may be the best option. Lastly, the Mayo Clinic recommends leaving gardening and lawn care to others to avoid stirring up potential allergens.

Trigger avoidance is most important for those with food allergies. If it has been determined that a patient has an allergy to a certain type of food, like wheat, eggs, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, crustacean shellfish or soybeans, the patient should avoid that food at all costs. This includes reading food product labels to see if an item was manufactured using equipment that also processes these types of foods, as recommended by the Food and Drug Administration. In restaurants, asking how a dish is prepared can help reduce exposure. Still, for patients who may experience anaphylaxis by inadvertently consuming a product that came into contact with one of these foods, it is wise to carry an epinephrine injector (EpiPen) just in case a severe reaction takes place.

Utilize Medication

There are several over-the-counter and prescription medications that can be used for allergy prevention. These may be used as needed or on a regular basis to help prevent an allergy attack. As was mentioned above, seasonal allergy sufferers can take a drug such as loratadine before going out on a day with a high pollen rating. This also works for patients with indoor allergies; those who are sensitive to pet dander can take medication before going to the house of a friend who has animals.

Some prescription medications can be used for long-term allergy prevention. Examples of these include nasal sprays, such as fluticasone and pills, such as montelukast.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology points out that there are side effects associated with these drugs. Patients should discuss medication options with their doctors before taking anything.

Patients develop some immunity as they are growing; as children, getting sick helps build antibodies to a variety of things and leads to a stronger immune system. Along these lines, there is some evidence that patients may be less likely to develop allergies related to airborne allergens if they are exposed to these allergens during infancy. Some research also suggests that babies who are breastfed develop a greater immunity to allergens. Since antibodies are transferred from mother to baby through breast milk, it stands to reason that this can increase the child's resistance to certain allergens.

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