When your allergies leave you red-eyed and itchy, eye drops may help. They can ease inflammation and itching, tearing, and swelling. Ask your doctor which kind of eye drop is right for you.
If stuffiness and congestion are your biggest problems, include decongestants. Nasal tissues usually swell during an allergic reaction, and decongestants can help. They’re available over the counter as pills and may come with an antihistamine. People with certain conditions including high blood pressure, glaucoma, or thyroid disease should talk with their doctor before taking decongestants.
Decongestants also come as nasal sprays. But these shouldn’t be used for more than three days straight because they may make symptoms worse. Other nasal sprays may also help allergy symptoms. If allergies have your nose feeling dry, pack a nasal saline spray. Your doctor may also recommend a prescription nasal spray.
Antihistamine pills can give you quick and powerful relief for allergy symptoms, including runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. They work by blocking a substance called histamine, which your immune system makes in response to allergens. Antihistamines are available over-the-counter and by prescription.
Allergies can often affect asthma. If you get asthma attacks or bronchospasms, your kit should have an inhaler. Short-acting inhaler medications — bronchodilators — are available only by prescription, and should be part of your asthma management plan. For a mild attack, a couple puffs will quickly relax the muscles that have tightened around your airways. Inhaled steroids don’t immediately relieve symptoms, but they can be prescribed for long-term asthma control. These medications control inflammation in the airways.
If you’re at risk for a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), your kit should have injectable epinephrine, such as EpiPen. It can stop or curb the dangerous reaction some people have to certain foods, medications, or insect stings. A severe reaction may include swelling of the airways, difficulty breathing, and a significant drop in blood pressure. Severe reactions can be life-threatening if they’re not treated right away.
Skin Creams and Lotions
For allergic skin reactions, keep small tubes of moisturizer and hydrocortisone cream in your allergy kit. Moisturizers can soothe the dry, itchy feeling, and hydrocortisone cream eases inflammation. For serious skin reactions or eczema, your doctor may recommend or prescribe other medications.
People with life-threatening allergies should wear a medical alert bracelet. If you have milder allergies, you can store medical information on a laminated card in your allergy kit. Include your type of allergy, doctor’s name and phone number, emergency contact information, and health insurance information.
If you travel and have dust mite allergies, pack a dust mite-proof, zippered pillow cover. You might also consider dust mite proof bedding encasements to cover mattresses. You’ll have a way to fend off this allergy and asthma trigger wherever you spend the night.
Where to Keep an Allergy Relief Kit
Once your allergy kit is complete, go over it with your doctor. Then carry your kit with you at all times in a purse or briefcase. Or make multiple kits — one for home, one for your car, and one for work. Make sure to check often for items that may have expired or need replacing. When you travel, be sure to store a kit in your carry-on.
Reviewed by Stanley M. Fineman, MD, MBA on October 03, 2014
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American Academy of Dermatology.
American Academy of Family Physicians.
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
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