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Allergic Reaction


Treatment of an Allergic Reaction

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.

Treatment at home is not enough in cases of severe allergic reactions.  A severe reaction is a medical emergency.  Shortness of breath, wheezing, swelling of the lips and mouth tissue, muffled voice, inability to swallow, and widespread hives are all danger signals of severe reaction.

  • Do not attempt to treat or "wait out" severe reactions at home.  Go immediately to a hospital emergency room.
  • If no one is available to drive you right away, call an ambulance.
  • For more information on what to do in a severe reaction, see Anaphylaxis.

Small reactions with mild symptoms usually respond to non-prescription allergy medications.

  • An oral antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) can ease allergic reactions.  Caution -- these may make you too drowsy to drive or operate machinery safely.  They can affect concentration and interfere with children's learning in school.  Nonsedating antihistamines are now available over the counter and include loratadine (Claritin).  These drugs should be taken for only a few days.
  • For rashes, use 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.

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