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Allergic Reaction Medical Treatment And Care

Jul 24, 2008
Avoid triggers. If you know you have an allergic reaction to peanuts, for example, do not eat them. Go out of your way to avoid foods prepared with or around peanuts.

Self-care at home is not enough in severe reactions. A severe reaction is a medical emergency. Do not attempt to treat or "wait out" severe reactions at home. Go immediately to a hospital emergency department.

If no one is available to drive you right away, call 911 for emergency medical transport. For more information on what to do in a severe reaction, see Anaphylaxis. Small reactions with mild symptoms usually respond to nonprescription allergy medications.

An oral antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl). These may make you too drowsy to drive or operate machinery safely. They can affect concentration and interfere with children's learning in school. These medications should be taken for only a few days. For rashes, an anti-inflammatory steroid cream such as hydrocortisone

For small, localized skin reactions, try cold, wet cloths or ice. Try applying a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a towel.

Generally, medication is the treatment of choice after the allergen is removed. For more information on removing environmental allergies from your home, see Allergy-proof your home.

Very severe reactions may require other therapy, such as oxygen for breathing difficulties or intravenous fluids to boost blood pressure in anaphylactic shock. Patients with very severe reactions usually require hospitalization.

Anti-allergy medications are of many types. The choice of medication and how it is given depends on the severity of the reaction.

For relief of long-term allergies such as hay fever or reactions to dust or animal dander, the following medications may be prescribed:

Long-acting prescription antihistamines, such as cetirizine (Zyrtec), fexofenadine (Allegra), and loratadine (Claritin), can relieve symptoms without causing sleepiness. They are meant to be taken for months at a time, even indefinitely. Most have to be taken only once a day and last for 24 hours.

Nasal corticosteroid sprays are widely prescribed for nasal symptoms not relieved by antihistamines. These prescription medications work very well and are safe, without the side effects of taking steroids by mouth or injection. These sprays take a few days to take effect, and must be used every day. Examples are fluticasone (Flonase), mometasone (Nasonex), and triamcinolone (Nasacort).

In some people, cromolyn sodium nasal spray prevents allergic rhinitis, inflammation of the nose that occurs as an allergic reaction.

Decongestants can restore sinus drainage, relieving symptoms such as nasal congestion and swelling and runny nose and sinus pain (pain or pressure in the face, especially around the eyes). They are available in oral forms and as nasal sprays. They should be used for only a few days, as they may have side effects such as high blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and nervousness.
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