When many people think of allergies, they think of outdoor allergens such as grass, tree and weed pollens. But many people suffer from indoor allergies as well – to dust, danders, cockroach, and mold spores.
Furthermore, many patients suffer from a condition called non-allergic rhinitis, or vasomotor rhinitis, which is when they have symptoms when exposed to fumes, odors, or fragrances. Vasomotor rhinitis will seem like typical allergy symptoms, but it’s actually not allergy—it is due to fine particles in the air irritating the nose and lungs.
How can you eliminate indoor allergens or triggers? Here are some tips:
-Control dust in the home by keeping the home clean, vacuuming frequently with a HEPA filter, and getting an air purifier for rooms in the home in which you spend the most time. Also, changing the A/C air filters regularly is important
-Get allergy-proof or dust mite-proof casings for bedding
-Carpeting can be a major vector or home for allergens such as dust and dander. Frequent cleaning is essential, or if you are able to, consider removing the carpeting from the home and replacing with tile or laminate flooring
-Do not smoke!
-If you are allergic to animals, then it’s best not to get one. But if you already have an animal, it’s best to keep them out of your bedroom and wash them frequently. Did you know that there is no such thing as a non-shedding or “hypoallergenic” dog? Studies show there is just as much allergen present in homes with shedding dogs vs. hypoallergenic dogs. The key is to bathe them frequently – twice per week – to eliminate allergenic proteins
-Dust and allergens love to stick to fabrics such as upholstered furniture or curtains. Clean them frequently and look for cleaning products that help remove dander and allergens
-Keep bathrooms and laundry areas clean and well-ventilated to prevent the growth of mold
-If you feel you are sensitive to odors, fumes or fragrances, then avoid plug-in air fresheners or fragrance diffusers
Insect activity, especially bee activity, increases during the spring and summer months in Arizona. Approximately 0.5% of children and 3% of adults will have a reaction to insect stings. It’s important to be aware of how to avoid these insects and protect yourself.
The most common symptoms with insect sting allergy are pain, redness, swelling in the area of the sting and spreading beyond the area, flushing, hives or welts, itching, and more severe symptoms of anaphylactic shock.
Many people have a small, localized area of itching, redness and swelling after a sting. A true allergic reaction involves local reactions which cause swelling and redness that extends beyond the area of the initial sting, hives, chest tightness or shortness of breath, or anaphylaxis. These symptoms warrant immediate medical attention. Anaphylaxis is the most severe type of reaction, and can be fatal if not treated with epinephrine right away.
Don’t worry – It’s important to know that severe anaphylactic reactions are rare. However, people who have experienced an allergic reaction to an insect sting have a 60% chance of similar or worse symptoms if stung again, and should be evaluated by an allergist for further evaluation and treatment.
After taking a detailed history of the sting and the symptoms and performing any necessary testing, your allergist will recommend the right treatment for you. The most important thing is to have epinephrine auto-injector available if there is a risk of another allergic reaction. There’s also the possibility of doing immunotherapy (allergy shots) for venom to help prevent future allergic reactions.
Avoiding the insect all together is the best treatment. There are many precautions that can be taken to avoid exposure, including: avoiding walking barefoot in the grass, keeping any outdoor food covered at all times, avoid sweet and citrus-scented colognes or perfumes, avoid wearing bright colored clothing, and keeping window and door screens in good repair.
If you’ve had an allergic reaction to an insect sting, it’s important to discuss with your allergist at AAAI to develop the best treatment plan for you!