Remember when you were little, and you saw a fuzzy bumble bee and you just wanted to grab it?! It looked so cute and tiny. Eventually, you forgot that it would sting you because you were just so infatuated with how it buzzed around the pretty flowers. So, you do the only logical thing and you lunged after it. It of course stung your hand. No? Was I just the weird kid who tried grabbing things that could hurt me? In the end it didn’t really matter because I’m not allergic to anything …. That I know of.
Allergies are common. In fact, they are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the United States and 50 million people in the US suffer from allergies each year. Growing up there was always at least five kids in my class that had allergies. It seemed to always be to peanut butter, which made me so sad. Like can you even fathom the idea of not being able to just devour an entire spoonful of sticky goodness?! I know I can’t.
Typically, when people think of allergies they might think of seasonal allergies. Like getting puffy eyes and a runny nose from the changes in season. However, allergies can be very serious. The most serious allergic reaction is when your body goes into anaphylaxis shock. Anaphylaxis is when your immune system releases a lot of chemicals, which causes shock. Your blood pressure will drop quickly, and your airways get blocked, which makes it hard to breathe. The only way to stop anaphylaxis is with epinephrine, which can be injected into your thigh with an EpiPen. Even if you inject yourself with your EpiPen and you feel fine, you should still go to the emergency room after to get checked out because there can be a second reaction after anaphylaxis. If not treated anaphylaxis can be fatal. In the United States, 90-100 people die each year from anaphylaxis.
Does Avoidance Work?
When humans know that something will hurt us, we typically avoid it. We’ll take the longer route to walk down a lit-up street versus a dark alleyway or we’ll stay inside during bad weather because we’ve grown up being told that bad things can happen or we’ll get hurt. There are numerous things we avoid based off superstition, fear, or rationality. However, allergies cannot be avoided.
Our bodies are sensitive and complex, which means that there are triggers for allergies everywhere. Also, you could live your entire life not allergic to bees and then all of a sudden at age 27 develop an allergy. The thing with an environmental allergy is that you can’t avoid it forever. Bees come around during warm weather when the flowers are blooming. So, if you live in Minnesnowta like me, you’re not going to stay inside all summer to avoid the bees.
Certain environmental allergies cannot be avoided (food and medicine allergies are avoidable because there are other options for you). So, what do you? Walk around on eggshells and hope that no bees come near you? Never wear the color yellow again as to not be mistaken as a pretty yellow flower? Stand so still and don’t blink when you do see one? No.
You’re going to be prepared.
If you know that you have a serious allergy, always keep an EpiPen on you for unexpected reactions.
If you have a food allergy, then make sure to read the ingredient lists on new items. Read the whole list, because your allergy might be down at the bottom of the long list. Likewise, to be prepared for a medicine allergy just let your doctors know. They will accommodate and use a different medicine to help treat you.
Being prepared for an environmental or insect sting allergy is a little different because you never know when you’ll run into the annoying little bug or plant. Therefore, keep ointment, Benadryl, or your EpiPen on you. If your throat begins to close during an allergic reaction, avoid taking any pills.
Carrying an EpiPen in your hand all the time isn’t convenient, but neither is breaking out in hives. Either attach your EpiPen to your backpack, belt loop, or travel kit or keep it in an easily accessible spot that you can reach in an emergency.
Having easy access to your EpiPen is important. It is also important to tell your friends, family, and colleagues how to use your EpiPen in case you cannot use it on yourself. EpiPens are one of the medications that you don’t want locked up because you’ll need it ASAP! Of course, keep it away from children if it isn’t theirs and educate them on what it is.
As always, do your research. You’re probably sick of me saying this by now, but research is key! If you’re going hiking and you’re allergic to a certain bug, bring all the possible supplies you’ll need just in case. If you’re going to a company potluck, bring your EpiPen just in case one of the foods touched peanuts. The point is that life throws curve balls at us all the time. That’s how you found out about your allergy in the first place. The odds that you can live the rest of your life without having a reaction again, is pretty slim. But hey, maybe you’re incredibly diligent and if that’s the case I’m proud of you.
Let me know what you’re allergic to and how you prepare for potential allergic reactions in the comments, on social media, or via email!
AAFA. (n.d.). Retrieved June 27, 2019, [Read More Here]
Facts. (2018, January 09). Retrieved June 27, 2019, [ Read More Here]
Staff, M. C. (2018, January 05). Anaphylaxis. Retrieved June 27, 2019, [Read More Here]