Allergy treatments range from simply avoiding contact with the allergen to emergency treatment of medical symptoms. Allergic reactions present themselves with a wide range of symptoms, from a mild runny nose to life-threatening anaphylactic shock, so no single allergy treatment exists. Luckily, there are many ways to manage allergies.
The best treatment for an allergy is to avoid contact with the allergen. This is relatively easy for people with identified food or drug allergies: Avoiding the allergen effectively prevents allergic reactions.
Often, however, allergen avoidance is easier said than done. People may inadvertently come into contact with food allergens in restaurants or in processed foods.
While it makes sense to get rid of the family pet if it causes allergic reactions, people who are very attached to their pets may have trouble with this. Often, pet dander is found outside the house, and it is difficult to avoid altogether.
Controlling Allergies in the Home
Reducing exposure to common household allergens can help manage some allergic reactions. A number of tactics can be used to reduce animal dander, dust mites and other common household allergens. Ways to control allergy symptoms at home include:
- Avoid clutter to reduce dust
- Find new homes for pets, or keep the animal outside
- Maintain humidity levels at 40 to 50 percent to prevent mold growth
- Replace carpet with wood, vinyl or other hard flooring
- Use allergen-proof mattress covers
- Use HEPA filters to reduce airborne allergens
- Wash bed linens once a week in water hot enough to kill dust mites.
Seasonal Allergy Relief
Seasonal allergy relief requires special attention. Pollen can travel hundreds of miles from its point of origin, so simply living in a seemingly location free of allergen-causing plants is not necessarily a defense against allergic reactions.
Paying attention to local pollen indices helps to determine your risk of allergy symptoms. Keep windows closed during pollen season and use HEPA filters and air conditioners to keep indoor pollen levels down. Similar tactics are necessary in the spring in areas where springtime mold growth is a problem.
Medical Allergy Treatments
A number of medical allergy treatments are available. You can find medication to control allergy symptoms both over-the-counter and in prescription form.
Allergy medication is available in oral form, nasal sprays, inhalers, skin cream, eye drops and injections. Common allergy treatments include:
Immunotherapy uses a series of injections to expose the patient to controlled doses of an allergen. The goal is to increase resistance to the allergen, which reduces the severity of allergic reactions. Immunotherapy is usually recommended if allergy medication proves ineffective or if allergy treatments produce undesirable side effects.
Severe allergic reactions may produce medical symptoms of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening condition that requires emergency medical care. People at risk of anaphylaxis may carry single-use epinephrine pens to combat anaphylaxis until medical care is available.