Allergies occur when your body comes in contact with an allergen and your body mistakes it as a threat. This triggers a response in your immune system which leads to allergy symptoms whenever you are exposed to the allergen. Once an allergy develops, it can be very difficult to deal with but it’s not impossible.
Upon hearing the news that you or your child has developed a serious allergy, it’s natural to feel stressed. There are many life-altering changes that you will need to consider. However, you should take a moment to pause so you aren’t overwhelmed. Take a step back and take a deep breath. You have plenty of time to work through everything. If the allergy will cause you to give up something you love like gluten or dairy, then allow yourself to feel sad about it. Give yourself time to process your emotions instead of suppressing them. If your child has an allergy, do your best not to panic about them or cause them any stress. It will be a hard change, but a calm approach can be very beneficial.
After you’ve given yourself time to process the news, you need to begin educating yourself on the allergy. To start, you should find reliable resources that will help you learn more about the allergy and how to handle it. A great place to start is your doctor. They can provide you with other resources and give you recommendations on any necessary lifestyle changes. Next, reach out to other people who have the allergy. They are currently living with it and will have inside knowledge on what to do about it and how to manage it. Of course, you can also research on your own by reading reliable websites and other sources of information. As you educate yourself, you want to find as much information as possible. This includes information about the allergy, any triggers, how to handle reactions, and more. It’s important to know what you’re doing so you or your child can be safe.
One of the hardest parts about developing an allergy is being forced to let go of things that you love. There are many types of allergies, but you are likely to see pet allergies or any of the top eight food allergies (milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, crustacean shellfish, wheat, and soy). Once you’ve identified what your allergy will require you to go without, you can make a plan to find new things to enjoy. You can start by finding replacements for things. For example, if you have a milk allergy in your home you can consider alternatives such as soy, almond, oat, or rice milk. Some allergies may even allow you to have what you love, just to a smaller degree. This is true of pet allergies. Mini poodles are hypoallergenic and can be a good option if your family wants a dog but is dealing with pet allergies. An allergy doesn’t mean you completely have to go without. You simply find replacements or other options. You can also learn to enjoy the things you can still have in your life even more.
Another struggle of having an allergy is communicating it to others to protect yourself. Let’s focus on food allergies. These allergies can come in degrees. In some cases, you only react if you ingest it. In other cases, you might be able to eat food that has been exposed to the allergen. Some severe cases can cause a reaction if you inhale particles in the air. An example of that would be inhaling peanut flour or peanut cooking spray. Depending on your situation, you should inform others about your needs. If your child has a peanut allergy, for example, they might need to sit at a peanut-free table at lunch. When going out to eat, you should inform your servers about your particular needs. Let them know if your food absolutely cannot come into contact with the allergen or if some contact is still safe. For the health and safety of you or your child, you need to communicate the allergy. You can also advocate for yourself by looking ahead at restaurant options or talking to the host of a social event to be aware of what food will be present and available.
As careful as you may be, you can’t control everything. A reaction can still happen and you must know what to do to treat the reaction. Reactions will manifest differently, so it’s important to know the specific symptoms of your allergy. Commonly, allergies will affect the airways, skin, nose, mouth, and digestive system. Some allergic reactions may be mild, but others can cause anaphylaxis which may lead to loss of consciousness, cardiac arrest, and other distress. If anaphylaxis occurs, you should call 911 immediately. Some allergies will require the person to have an epinephrine auto-injector which will help reduce symptoms. Having two of these injectors with you is a good choice in case one is expired or malfunctions. It’s important to keep the person having the reaction calm. If a milder reaction occurs, you should be able to treat it with medication specific to the allergy and allergy symptoms. Some examples include antihistamines and decongestants.
Research has shown that stress is linked to allergic reactions. While stress does not cause an allergic reaction, it can make symptoms of an allergic reaction worse. One way it does this is by releasing chemicals such as histamine, which often leads to allergic reactions. Having more histamine in your blood exacerbates the reaction. It’s important to find ways to reduce your stress or the stress of your child to avoid having more serious reactions. There are plenty of stress-relieving activities. You can engage in relaxing activities such as yoga or meditation. Breathing exercises and art are also helpful. Certain lifestyle changes can have a positive impact such as a balanced diet and increased exercise.
Developing an allergy can lead to a lot of major life changes. It can be difficult to make these changes and it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Fortunately, there are ways you can manage these changes to make life easier for you or your child.
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