Allergies can turn you into a sniffling, sneezing mess. Lawtons carries a wide range of products designed to target these allergies and get you feeling better fast.
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What is an Allergy?
The immune system is our defense against infection. When the immune system overreacts to a normally harmless substance, it is called an allergy. The substance that triggers an allergic reaction, such as pollen, dust, animal dander, or a food or medication, is called an ‘allergen’.
The body responds to the allergen by making histamine and other chemicals. These chemicals cause the symptoms of an allergic reaction. Symptoms can range from mild itch, redness, congestion and sneezing to rash, or to more severe swelling, difficulty breathing and ‘anaphylaxis’- a potentially life-threatening total body reaction.
The allergy symptoms you experience can also depend on how you were exposed to the allergen. For instance, airborne allergens tend to cause eye and airway symptoms, while an allergen that is swallowed may cause digestive symptoms. The tendency to have allergies can run in the family, but family members are often allergic to different things. Although genetics do have a clear role with respect to allergies, environmental factors play a very strong role in development of allergies.
Avoiding Common Allergens or Triggers
The best way to deal with allergies is to avoid ‘triggers’. Below are some common allergens and suggestions for avoidance.
- Keep windows closed and use a filtered air conditioner during pollen season.
- Dry clothes in the dryer instead of hanging them outdoors.
- Vacuum floors with a HEPA filtered machine and dust surfaces with a damp cloth often.
- Minimize the amount of upholstered furniture in the house and avoid stuffed animals.
- Remove carpets wherever possible, especially in the bedroom.
- Use shades instead of blinds throughout the house.
- Make sure the dryer is vented.
- Use a cover for the bed mattress, boxspring and pillows.
- Wash bedding weekly in hot water (130ºF)
- Make sure bathrooms and kitchens are vented and/or have windows to allow humidity to escape.
- Keep damp areas clean to prevent mould growth.
- Use fungicide (e.g. equal parts household bleach and water) on sinks, shower stalls, and garbage pails to kill indoor moulds.
- Remove houseplants (a common source of mould).
- Keep humidity below 50% if possible.
- Remove furry or feathered pets from home if possible.
- Keep pets out of the bedroom.
- Wash pets regularly.
- Make a list of all medications that you are allergic or intolerant to and show it to all health professionals.
- Wear identification (e.g. Medic Alert) to inform people of serious allergies.
Prepare a Treatment Action Plan
Your Pharmacist will help you to create a treatment action plan based on your circumstances. Alergies are usually best managed using both drug and non-drug approaches. People often find avoiding problem allergens helpful, such as by circulating fresh air in the home, removing pets, keeping humidity less than 40-50%, regular vacuuming, and using saline nose sprays/lubricating eye drops to flush out allergens. Non-drug measures are described more fully on the other side of this brochure. Most people with allergic rhinitis prefer a newer “non-drowsy” antihistamine (e.g. desloratidine, fexofenadine, loratidine) over older, more sedating choices (e.g. chlorpheniramine, diphenhydramine). If relief from symptoms is not satisfactory after one week, or if your symptoms are interfering with your daily activities or sleep, it’s a good idea to make an appointment to see your doctor to review your action plan. Your doctor may recommend other medications, such as corticosteroid nose sprays, that are available by prescription.