Seek medical attention right away if you have an allergic reaction—especially if you have trouble breathing or swallowing. Allergic reactions can be life-threatening. Even if you have stabilized yourself with medications, you should still see a doctor who can monitor your cardiovascular and respiratory symptoms. Some people with severe allergies may even carry around their own dose of epinephrine (Epi-pen) that can be injected into the thigh in emergency situations—for example, a child allergic to bees may carry epinephrine if he or she goes away to camp or spends time outdoors.
If you have ever had an allergic reaction, carry a kit containing epinephrine (adrenaline) with you for emergencies. Epinephrine injections are needed to stop an attack of anaphylaxis, the most severe form of allergic reaction. Wear an ID bracelet or necklace stating information about any allergies you may have. In the event of an allergic reaction, you will need to inject yourself with epinephrine to halt the reaction. The Epi-pen is a convenient spring-loaded gadget that automatically delivers a dose of epinephrine when pressed against the leg or another area. Even if you have had a dose of epinephrine, you still need medical help. Injecting yourself with epinephrine will ease your symptoms and enable you to seek further medical care.
Your doctor is the best source of information on the drug treatment choices available to you.
If you have severe allergies and cannot avoid triggers, you may want to consider allergen immunotherapy to desensitize yourself. Your allergist will inject you (once a week at first; then once every four to six weeks) with minuscule amounts of the allergen, gradually increasing the dose until a maintenance level is found. This signals your body to produce substances that block allergic reactions. Allergen immunotherapy must be done carefully because too high a dose could prompt a reaction. Allergen immunotherapy is most effective when maintenance injections are given for a year. Because an injection might trigger an allergic reaction, you will have to stay in the doctor’s office for 20 minutes afterwards.
If you take beta-blockers and have a severe allergic reaction, epinephrine might not reverse it. In this case, you will need to be given glucagon intravenously to bring your blood pressure back up.
With proper treatment, prognosis is excellent. If you get help on time, anaphylaxis can usually be stopped with relative ease. Preventing another event is the next major concern. Avoiding allergens and, in some cases, undergoing allergen immunotherapy, can prevent recurrence. If you have life-threatening anaphylaxis without knowing what causes it, you will need to take preventative medications (antihistamines, oral albuterol, and corticosteroids).
If you have suffered a serious allergic reaction, you should be evaluated by an allergist.
- Common Side Effects of AntidepressantsFind out about common and not-so-common side effects of antidepressants and how to manage them.
- How Drugs Can Lower CholesterolDiscover how cholesterol-lowering medications work in your body to bring your cholesterol numbers down to ideal levels.
- Do Over-the-Counter Proton-Pump Inhibitors Work?You might wonder why you need a prescription for GERD if many PPIs are available over the counter. Get the answers to this and other questions about OTC PPIs.