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BellaOnline's Allergies and Colds Editor

Severe allergies

My husband and I both have allergies but the severity of our symptoms is as different as night and day. His allergies are mild and require little more than an occasional antihistamine and hanky. In contrast, mine are severe, at times interfering with my life. Allergies can be pain regardless of their severity but dealing with an extreme case such as mine requires more strategies to minimize the impact on the quality of oneís life.

Severe allergies are defined as causing symptoms that interfere with daily life. Sufferers may at times avoid going outdoors, plan their day around pollen counts, or be too sick to attend social events or go to work. They are sensitive to many allergens and/or may suffer more extreme reactions. No one knows for sure how many people have severe allergies but there are strategies to help those affected live better.

Identify your allergy triggers

I suffered with allergies for many years before I decided to find out just what was making me so miserable. The problem was I had multiple allergies which make it more difficult to pinpoint the culprits. I knew my allergies flared up when I was outside but the same thing occurred inside. My situation wasnít as simple as avoiding cat dander or not eating wheat.

Where do you start when you arenít sure what is causing your symptoms? Schedule an appointment with an allergy specialist, as I did, and ask for a blood or skin test. You probably will be tested for the top environmental allergens which are animal dander, dust mites, molds and pollen.

Ask to be tested for food allergies or sensitivities as well if you suspect foods may be playing a role. The top eight food allergens are dairy, wheat, soy, nuts, eggs, peanuts, fish and shellfish.

Those with a long list of allergens as I have might want to consider getting allergy shots. The goal would be not to eliminate your symptoms entirely but to reduce their severity. Desensitization shots helped put my symptoms in the more livable range. Whatever treatment you choose, make sure you are receiving the best care possible.

Limit your exposure

Once youíve identified the enemy (your allergens), work to keep them in a tolerable range. You canít live in a bubble so your goal should be to minimize your total exposure to allergens. Think of your body as a vessel that can only be filled to a certain point with allergens before you reach your saturation point. You want to keep your allergy exposure below your saturation point because that's where you get a full-blown allergy attack.

Donít do as I did and live in a house with a moldy basement for many years when you are highly allergic to mold. During that period in my life, my vessel was always at its saturation point. I was sick all the time but did not know what was causing my symptoms which again points out the importance of getting tested if you are clueless.

If pet dander is an issue, forego having a cat or dog, or at least, keep your pet outside or out of your bedroom. If dust mites are your trigger, work hard to keep your house clean. If pollens are a problem, donít sleep with your windows open at night. Instead, use your air conditioner. Your goal should be to keep allergens as low as possible without putting yourself in a bubble. Your situation will never be perfect but you can get your allergies to a manageable level if you are careful and diligent.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Sheree Welshimer. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Sheree Welshimer. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Sheree Welshimer for details.

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