managing allergies

Managing Allergies – Why It’s Not All About What You Eat

As the weather finally starts to get warmer, you can be sure that talk of allergies will soon begin again.

Spring and summer can be a tough time for allergy sufferers, with a lot to think about when it comes to what you eat – but the struggle doesn’t end there. Allergies aren’t just about food, and there are things that sufferers need to be aware of to prevent unexpected flare ups. While it’s important to follow certain rules with your diet, familiarising yourself with the following tips for preventing reactions can also help.

Preventing allergic reactions

Always read the label

Food labelling has become a lot clearer in recent years, meaning there’s no excuse not to check the packets of the food you’re buying. Get into the habit of reading the labels of everything you eat – it’ll only take a brief minute but it could prevent a reaction. Even foods you know have been safe to eat can change their ingredients now and then, so never assume that something is safe to eat.

Be sensible in restaurants

Eating out can be one of the biggest challenges for allergy sufferers – a misinformed waiter or an unlisted ingredient could cause you a reaction and lead to misery during what should be an enjoyable experience. Ask your waiter for details of allergies on the menu – while some dishes might have clear ingredients that you might be allergic too, others might not be so simple. For those with coeliac disease or a gluten intolerance, many restaurants are becoming better at offering gluten-free menus or gluten-free alternatives to many dishes – so make sure you ask if it’s not obvious.

Make people aware of your allergies

Letting people know that you have allergies can help in the event of a reaction. While you don’t need to talk about your allergy every single minute of the day, letting the people you spend regular time (such as work colleagues, family and friends) know that you have allergies could save your life.

Other ways to make people aware of your allergies include storing health information on your phone. Those with severe allergies might want to consider wearing an allergy bracelet to help people identify your allergies immediately. Allergy bracelets are a great idea for children in particular, who may not be as effective in communicating their allergies.

Other ways to manage allergies

Be careful with your toiletries

Check your beauty products and toiletries. Many of them might contain ingredients that you’re allergic to that you wouldn’t expect to find in your shampoo or face cream. Some products, like shampoo, can contain gluten – which could cause you a skin reaction if you have an allergy. Products containing oil is something you should especially look out for – if something contains a nut oil, like almond oil, you could find yourself suffering an unexpected reaction.

Use natural cleaning products

Those with sensitive skin should look to using more natural cleaning products to prevent reactions. Many people can become intolerant to the ingredients found in common household cleaning problems, as well as laundry detergent, etc. The good news here is that more and more companies are offering natural alternatives to typical products so they shouldn’t be too difficult to find.

Keep medication to hand

An allergic reaction can strike at any time, and you won’t always know what’s caused it. Keeping a supply of antihistamines or an Epipen to hand can help you get immediate relief while you try to work out the cause. Retrace your steps and think about what you’ve eaten or come into contact with that might have caused you a reaction.

Read clothing labels

Clothing can be another cause for concern, with many types of materials causing a reaction. If you’re allergic to animal fur, for example, check the labels of knitwear, coats and other garments to check they don’t contain real animal fur – sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference between real and synthetic, and even if something isn’t 100% cashmere, wool or alpaca – an item might contain some percentage of the fibres.

Managing allergies is a daily struggle for sufferers, but with the right precautions there’s no reason to let it affect you. Check out the NHS Choices pages for more information on managing allergies.