When allergies leave you red-eyed and itchy, eyedrops can help. They ease inflammation so your eyes don't itch, tear up, or swell. Use antihistamine drops with ketotifen in them before you go outside to prevent symptoms. Try artificial tears to flush out allergens.
If stuffiness and congestion are your biggest problems, you'll need decongestants. They help shrink your nasal tissues, which swell during an allergic reaction. You can get them over the counter as pills. Some are mixed with an antihistamine. If you have a health problem like high blood pressure, glaucoma, or thyroid disease, talk to your doctor before you take them.
Steroid versions are often the first choice to treat an allergy. If your nose feels dry inside, try a nasal saline spray to moisten it. Decongestants also come as sprays. Don't use them for more than 3 days in a row. After that, they'll make your symptoms worse.
You need them for powerful relief of allergy symptoms, like a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy, watery eyes. They block a substance called histamine, which your immune system makes when you come across an allergen. You can get them over the counter and by prescription. They get a bad rap for making you sleepy, but new products like cetirizine, desloratadine, fexofenadine, and loratadine are less likely to do that than older versions. Check with your pharmacist.
Allergies often affect asthma. If you get asthma attacks or bronchospasms, your doctor will prescribe an inhaler as part of your disease management plan. This device delivers doses of a short-acting medication called a bronchodilator. If you have a mild attack, a couple of puffs will quickly relax the muscles that have tightened around your airways. Inhaled steroids, another common treatment, won’t ease symptoms right away. Instead you take them for long-term control of inflammation in your lungs.
If you're at risk for a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction (your doctor will call it anaphylaxis), you'll need an epinephrine auto-injector in your kit. Using it can stop or curb a dangerous reaction to foods, medications, or insect stings that causes your airways to swell, makes it hard for you to breathe, and lowers your blood pressure. This type of reaction can be life-threatening if you don't treat it right away.
Skin Creams and Lotions
Keep small tubes of moisturizer and hydrocortisone cream in your allergy kit. Use them to treat allergic reactions that show up on your skin. Moisturizers can soothe the dry, itchy feeling, and hydrocortisone cream eases inflammation. Your doctor may suggest or prescribe other medications for more serious reactions or eczema.
If you have a life-threatening allergy, you should wear a medical alert bracelet. If your allergies are mild, you can store medical information on a laminated card in your allergy kit. Include your type of allergy, your doctor’s name and phone number, emergency contact information, and health insurance information.
If you're a road warrior and you have dust mite allergies, pack a dust mite-proof, zippered pillow cover. You might even think about a mattress cover to boot. It's a bit more to pack, but you’ll be able 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. You could also make multiple kits -- one for home, one for your car, and one for work. Check it often for items that are expired or need to be replaced. Store a kit in your carry-on bag when you travel.
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.