After your allergens have been identified and a treatment plan has been established, you can begin to make adjustments that will reduce the effect of your allergies on your lifestyle.
Adapt. Most allergies require some modifications to the way you go about your life, particularly if you are going to be diligent about avoiding allergens. A health care professional can provide you with specific suggestions for your particular form of allergy. For example, if you have indoor allergies, you will benefit from reducing the amount of plush fabric in your home, including draperies, carpets and upholstery. Regularly vacuum any upholstered furniture, clean your sheets and blankets weekly in hot water, consider purchasing allergy control covers to encase your mattress and pillow, and do not allow pets in your bedroom. If you have a pet allergy, remove pets from the home if possible, and do not allow smoking indoors. Reduce the cockroach population (if you have cockroaches) by keeping the floors and counters clean, limiting your eating to the kitchen and dining areas, and keeping foods in sealed containers. For pollen allergy, keep windows closed during spring and summer nights and get in the habit of changing your clothes after you have been outdoors. Don’t keep a laundry hamper in your bedroom, since pollens that have been carried indoors on your clothes can circulate into the bedroom air. Reducing your exposure to allergens will improve your health and your sense of well-being.
Treat promptly. It is easiest to treat allergies early, when you can anticipate an allergy trigger exposure or when feel yourself beginning to develop symptoms.
Educate. Educate yourself, your loved ones and, when appropriate, your co-workers about your allergies in an effort to avoid your allergens. If you have the potential for an anaphylactic reaction, tell the people close to you so they know what to watch for. If you have an EpiPen, make sure your family or roommates and co-workers know where you keep it. If you are a parent of a child with allergies, tell school personnel, child-care providers and the parents of playmates what allergens to avoid and whether or not your child is likely to develop an anaphylactic reaction. Most important, teach your child what to avoid and what to do in an emergency.
Revision date: June 22, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.