By: Vida y Salud.
Besides being annoying, allergies can endanger your life. Know yourself and get checked before a trip to avoid mishaps, and when all else fails, follow these measures of prevention and care.
Allergies are a very bothersome, even at home: allergens are everywhere, causing asthma, rhinitis, urticaria, conjunctivitis and, in severe cases, anaphylactic shocks and crises that threaten your life. And, when traveling, this problem is magnified, as each destination involves different and new allergens that can exacerbate your health problems. For more enjoyable vacations, we bring you techniques and strategies to deal with the mishaps related to allergies, both at home and on your travels.
Start with time: Desensitization
Biomedical sciences offer intervention strategies like desensitization therapies that can improve your allergies. Desensitization programs, like vaccines, operate through the gradual exposure to the agents that cause allergies in your body. It begins with an injection of a minimum dose of allergen, and, week by week, its concentration increases. Over time, your body learns to respond appropriately to the factor that causes your allergies, until a point when your body has adapted completely to them, and your allergies disappear. The most recent studies and meta-analyzes suggest that these therapies are effective for about 80% of people affected by rhinitis and asthma.
Know yourself well to take better care of your body.
Your personal experiences should gradually inform you about the agents that trigger your allergic reactions: Make a symptom diary, noting the time, duration, and place of occurrence of your episodes, and their response to medicines. Allergens can come from food (peanuts, nuts, shellfish, etc.), environmental agents (dust, pollen, mold ...), and from contact with animals (fur, saliva, stings, and bites), among other sources. Paying attention to your daily life, you should gradually identify the triggers of your disorders, but when this strategy falls short, a clinical allergy test can help determine its sources. This involves the application of usual allergens in the skin (usually on the back) in a safe environment and in small doses. This is usually helpful to identify the cause of your allergy.
Immediate intervention therapies: Antihistamines.
Antihistamines are drugs that reduce the release of histamine, the molecule that causes most of the symptoms (itching, bronchial constriction, redness) associated with an allergic reaction. They are classified according to their time of discovery (in generations): the most recent have lesser adverse effects such as drowsiness and dizziness. However, like any medicine, there are precautions to follow to use them safely: you must know the dose and the duration of therapy, the route of administration (tablets, eye drops, nasal sprays ...), and their risks and side effects (drowsiness, headache, dry mouth, blurred vision ...). You should also consult your doctor to ensure that the prescribed antihistamines do not interact dangerously with other medicines that you take, such as antidepressants and hormones.
Epinephrine: For the most extreme cases.
Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction vary, but they typically include the closure of airways, wheezing, hoarseness, hives or severe itching, dizziness, excretion disorders, confusion, swelling, among many others. People affected by these extreme reactions must have injections of epinephrine (adrenaline) at hand, to deal with these life threatening episodes. While traveling it is important to have near you, at all times, this life-saving contraption. Take it with you on excursions and trips to the countryside, and in your carry-on bag in airplanes, taking into account the provisions of aerial and personal security: Pack it in a ziplock bag in appropriate volumes, check the expiration date, and follow carefully the advice of your doctor . Also remember that, if you get to need to use it, this will only solve your immediate emergency: You should consult a doctor as soon as possible to rule out further complications.
Take your preventive measures wherever you go.
To prevent diet-related allergies, you should pack snacks that can satisfy your appetite in circumstances where supply is limited or potentially dangerous. Regarding allergies caused by pollen, you can improve your situation by traveling in low pollination seasons, by using facemasks, and by consulting websites (like www.allergyclimates.com) where travelers from around the world share their experiences in various places. For allergies to dust and mold you should travel with hermetic pillowcases to prevent the passage of these harmful particles. Everyday there are more and more hotels with rooms designed especially for allergies and asthma. They are usually smokefree and have increased hygiene to prevent these problems.