Spring has finally sprung which means that the birds are chirping and the flowers are blooming… and the pollen is increasing. Spring also means that allergy season has arrived. An allergy is a hypersensitivity disorder of the immune system. It occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to what is normally a harmless substance. It irritates four of the five senses – smell, sight, taste and touch – causing inflammation, disability and in severe cases, even death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year.
If you’re a seasonal or year round allergy sufferer, it’s a good idea to have an allergy relief kit at the ready to help relieve those irritating symptoms.
DIY Allergy Relief Kit
1. Skin Creams and Lotions
Itchy skin, hives and rashes are all allergic skin reactions. The best treatment for these to keep in your allergy relief kit are small tubes of moisturizer and hydrocortisone cream. Hydrocortisone cream is a topical steroid treatment that reduces inflammation and lotion can help further soothe the dry, itchy feeling.
2. Injectable Epinephrine
For those at risk for severe, life-threatening allergic reactions, it is extremely important to have injectable epinephrine (EpiPen/Twinject) in your kit. Those that suffer from these severe reactions will experience difficulty with breathing, swelling of the bronchial airways and a drop in blood pressure. If these symptoms aren’t treated immediately they can be life-threatening. Treating these severe reactions with injectable epinephrine can reduce and even stop the life-threatening allergic reactions some have to certain foods, medications, or insect stings.
3. Eye Drops
Itchy, watery, red or swollen eyes can be one of the most irritating and frustrating of all the allergic reaction symptoms. Allergy eye drops work by reducing histamine in the eye tissues. Over the Counter (OTC) antihistamine drops are extremely effective in reducing or even eliminating allergic eye symptoms such as itchiness, redness, wateriness and puffy, swollen eyes. There are also drops for red eyes (decongestant drops) that may also sometimes contain antihistamines.
Allergies have you stuffed up and congested? Then a decongestant is a must for your kit. Some allergens cause nasal tissues to swell during a reaction and decongestants relieve this swelling, countering the allergic reaction.
5. Nasal Sprays
If your nose is feeling dry during allergy season, you’ll want to include a nasal spray. There are two types: saline and decongestant. A decongestant nasal spray shrinks the blood vessels inside your nose while a saline nasal spray adds moisture to your nose. Decongestant nose sprays (such as Afrin) should not be used for more than a few days, as they can actually make the symptoms worse leading to chronic nasal congestion.
A small pill available over-the-counter, antihistamines such as Benadryl and Claritin can provide quick relief for allergy symptoms, including nasal congestion, eye irritation, itching, and hives. Allergy sufferers immune systems produce a substance called “histamine” when exposed to the allergen and antihistamines block this substance. Be aware that the majority of OTC antihistamines may cause drowsiness, especially if they’re combined with alcohol. So be careful if you’re driving!
7. Medical Information
If you have allergies that are so severe that they are life threatening, you should consider wearing a medical alert bracelet. For those with less severe allergies, include a medical information card in your DIY Allergy Relief Kit that includes your type of allergies, emergency contact information, insurance information and your doctors name and phone number.
For asthma sufferers, allergies can cause asthma attacks. Make sure your allergy kit includes an inhaler if you are prone to asthma attacks or bronchospasms.
Natural Allergy Relievers
If you prefer try natural remedies for your allergy symptoms, be sure to look into and add the following to your DIY allergy relief kit:
- Raw, Local Honey
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Stinging nettle
- Neti Pot
- Essential Oils
Additionally, the following lifestyle changes can also bring extra allergy relief to sufferers.
- Wash clothes and bedding once a week
- Shower before bed to wash off any pollen on your skin or in your hair
- Wipe your pets down after they’ve gone outside
- Limit your exposure on days with super high pollen counts
- Keep windows shut to reduce the amount of pollen getting inside
Once your DIY Allergy Relief Kit is complete, make sure to go over the contents with your doctor and make sure you haven’t left anything important out. The kit should be small enough to carry with you in your purse or briefcase so that you always have it on you. You could also make multiple kits and keep one at home, one at work and one in the car. Just be sure to check the items left in the kit every once in awhile and remove/replace expired or missing medication. Don’t forget to store a kit in your carry-on when you travel!
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