When you have Allergies
Avoid Allergy Triggers-it's Your First Line of Defense Against Allergies
Some people find that their allergy symptoms almost disappear when they take the time to remove allergy triggers from their surroundings. You may too. Be on the alert for allergy triggers. The most common allergy triggers are pollen, dust mites, pet dander, mold, strong chemical fumes and odors (including perfumes, fragrances in household cleaners and detergents), smoke, and air pollution. Some people also have food allergies.
How can you reduce allergy triggers in your environment at home and at work? Set up systems to reduce or eliminate allergy triggers when you can. For example, reduce dust in your office by filing memos and other papers on a regular schedule, maybe every Friday. Keep pets off furniture to avoid pet dander. Drive with the windows closed and the air conditioner on during high-pollen seasons. For more information and detailed suggestions, refer to the BE ALLERGY ALERT! brochure, Protecting Yourself.
Handling Allergy Symptoms
This is where it really pays dividends to BE ALLERGY ALERT! The more you become aware of your allergy symptoms, the better you'll be able to explain them to your doctor or healthcare professional. That will help you get the treatment plan that will be the most effective and convenient for you.
When do you have symptoms? Do you have them most often in the early morning, during the day, in the evening, or while you sleep? Do they get better or worse when you go outside, to work, to the gym, to a friend's house, to a mall or movie theater? What are your symptoms? Do you have a stuffy nose or a runny nose? A dry cough, itchy throat, rash, headache? Do you find yourself short of breath or wheezing after physical activity?
What makes you feel better? Are you more comfortable on cold or warmer days? Are you taking any allergy medicine now? Does it seem to be working? If not, why?
What are you doing to reduce or manage your symptoms? Keep a small notebook in your pocket or desk to record your symptoms throughout the day. It will be very useful in identifying the allergy triggers you are most sensitive to and will help you and your doctor make a plan to deal with them.
Excellent communication between you and your doctor is essential. See the doctor regularly. With allergies, the best approach is working to reduce or prevent allergy attacks or complications. That means you need to see your doctor on a regular schedule throughout the year, not just during high-pollen season when your allergies may be more serious.
Use the Allergy Risk-Assessment Hotline. Call the toll-free number to get personalized information about allergies or other respiratory conditions. Request a written summary of questions asked and your answers. You can then review the information you receive through the Allergy Risk-Assessment Hotline with your doctor. It's a very good way to provide your physician with all the details necessary to get an accurate diagnosis and receive appropriate treatment
Tell your doctor what medications you're taking for other conditions and other details about your general health. Describe all over-the-counter and prescription medications you are taking, and why. Describe your general eating, exercise, and sleeping habits. Tell the doctor when, what, and how often you drink alcoholic beverages or smoke.
Ask about medications and treatment choices. The good news is that there has been a great deal of research on allergies in recent years. Several of the newer medications work effectively and do not cause drowsiness. Ask your doctor which medications would help you manage your allergy symptoms. Also ask your doctor to explain how these medications work to help your body resist allergy attacks. You should also ask about interactions with other medications and alcohol or possible side effects.
Decide on a treatment plan, and follow it carefully. Check all the details. Do you have to adapt the plan for your lifestyle? If so, how? For example, if you travel often, should you take your pillow with you? Should you take your medicine on your home time zone schedule or can you take it based on current time where you are? If you play tennis, should you play on an indoor court during high-pollen months?
Explain your allergy treatment plan to all the healthcare professionals who treat you. Also, tell coaches and people who provide wellness or personal care services. Most people go to several different medical specialists for healthcare services. Tell your dentist, eye doctor, and other healthcare professionals what has been prescribed for your allergies so that whatever they recommend does not create problems or reduce the effectiveness of your allergy treatment plan.
Also describe your allergies to people who help you exercise or do personal care services for you such as massage or physical therapy. For example, a coach should be informed if you are taking medication and if there are any restrictions on your activity levels when the pollen or dust levels in the air are high. Another example: a massage or physical therapist who knows about your allergies can choose non-allergenic creams, oils, or lotions.
Be prepared in case of an emergency. Because you know how to BE ALLERGY ALERT!, it's not likely that you'll have a medical allergy emergency, but it's still smart to be ready to handle one.
Write the name and phone number of your doctor and a nearby emergency treatment center here:
Cut out this section and keep a copy of it in your wallet. Get help immediately if you have difficulty breathing, an irregular heartbeat, or some other unusual symptom.