Follow these tips to help reduce your risk of a severe allergic reaction at home and when you go out.
1. Avoid your allergy triggers whenever possible.
A big part of reducing your risk of a severe allergic reaction is avoiding your allergy triggers.
You can reduce your risk of a severe allergic reaction by following these helpful avoidance tips.
If you have a food allergy:
- Always check product labels and be aware that some ingredients may have alternate names
- Remember that some food products may contain hidden ingredients
- Food in restaurants may have been prepared using utensils or equipment that have come into contact with your allergy trigger
- Avoid eating any food item if there is no ingredient list, you don’t recognize an ingredient on the label or if the label says, ‘May contain…’, ‘Does contain…’ or ‘May have come into contact with…’ your trigger
Be aware that while these types of warning statements commonly appear on food manufactured in North America, they might not appear on imported products.
Before dining out:
- Call the restaurant and tell them which foods you are allergic to
- Ask if they have special measures in place to accommodate your food allergy
- Check the menu for possible sources of cross-contamination
- Cross-contamination happens when a “safe” food picks up traces of your allergen from an “unsafe” food, usually through utensils or sharing the same appliances
- For example, using the same tongs for serving salad as well as seafood
- To help avoid cross-contamination when eating out, tell your server about your allergy and ask them to inform the chef and kitchen staff.
If you are allergic to insect bites:
- Avoid wearing perfume
- Use insect repellent
- Wear long sleeves and pants
- Wear shoes with closed toes
If you are allergic to insect stings:
- Avoid insects and nests
- In the presence of insects, stay calm and move away slowly
- Cover all food when outdoors
- Avoid wearing bright colours or perfumes
- Wear shoes with closed toes
- Avoid going barefoot outside
- Move away if someone near you gets stung, since more stinging insects may come to the area
If you are allergic to latex:
- Avoid ALL products that contain latex
- Read labels carefully
- Look for latex-free options
- You may be able to use latex products as long as they are labeled “powder-free”
- Tell your healthcare provider about your allergy; most clinics and hospitals can use non-latex alternatives
If you are allergic to medication:
- Tell your healthcare provider about a reaction you have had to a drug
- Avoid taking the drug you are allergic to
- Ask your healthcare provider about alternative medication
- Avoid similar drugs to that of which you are allergic to
- Mention your drug allergy to ALL healthcare providers you deal with (doctor, dentist, pharmacist, etc.)
If you’re at risk of an exercise-induced allergic reaction:
- Stop exercising at the first sign of any symptoms
- Avoid eating before and after exercise if this is a possible trigger
- Exercise with a friend
- Tell them what to do to help you if you have a reaction
Taking anti-allergy medications before exercising won’t prevent a severe allergic reaction.
In the case of idiopathic anaphylaxis:
Since the trigger is unknown, it is important to be prepared by wearing a Medical Identification bracelet
2. Make sure you and your child are prepared for special celebrations.
Participating in special occasions can often be overwhelming and stressful for a child with potentially life-threatening
- Alert the party host to your child’s potentially life-threatening allergies ahead of time and offer to provide food that is safe for your child to eat
- Encourage children to speak up and inform friends and party hosts about their potentially life-threatening allergies, triggers that they need to avoid, how to recognize the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and when they should get an adult in case of an emergency
- Make sure other adults are aware of your child’s potentially life-threatening allergy (e.g., parents, party hosts, babysitters, etc.)
- Offer to chaperone at the event and keep a close eye on potential allergic triggers. The host may appreciate the extra adult help!
- Never allow children to share food or drinks with friends
- Tell children to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water, before and after eating and playing
- Try not to make the child with severe allergies feel different than the other children. Instead, work with the party host to organize activities that allow your child to join in
- Watch for insects and places where they gather (e.g., bee hives, ant farms) during outdoor events
- Remind your child not to wander off if he or she suspects symptoms are beginning
- Make sure that parents or the child has two EpiPen® Auto-Injectors on hand for response to potential life-threatening allergic reactions
3. Wear a Medical Identification bracelet and always carry a card that lists your medical information.
A Medical Identification bracelet and carrying a card that lists your medical information will help to quickly identify your condition in the event of a severe allergic reaction. This is particularly important for those who are at risk of idiopathic anaphylaxis, and consequently have an unidentified trigger.
4. Don’t go it alone.
It’s not easy keeping track of your allergy triggers. And you may not be able to tell others how to inject EpiPen® during a severe allergic reaction.
Take the time to educate family and friends about your severe allergic reactions and what to do in the event of an emergency.
5. Carry EpiPen® with you at all times.
Carry your EpiPen® Auto-Injector with you at all times and use it immediately at the first signs of a severe allergic reaction.
Hesitating to use EpiPen® or not using it at all can lead to a life-threatening situation—so don’t wait!
Ask your healthcare provider to write additional prescriptions so you can keep an EpiPen® Auto-Injector in each of the locations you visit regularly:
- Your bag or EpiPen® carrier
- Cottage/vacation home
You can’t always avoid your allergy triggers, but you can be prepared by carrying EpiPen® with you at all times.