Learning that you or your child is highly allergic to something can be a stressful time, and a time that demands extremely organized behavior. I recently learned that my son has a peanut allergy and can’t even tolerate non-peanut foods that were packaged in the same processing plants as peanuts. And, after witnessing the nasty allergic reaction that started us on the process of having him tested, I’m more than happy to make our home and his life as peanut-free as possible to keep an allergic reaction from happening again.
Allergies can be frustrating, but the road to an allergen-free life doesn’t have to be. If you or your child has recently been diagnosed with an allergy, take an organized approach to reducing the allergens like you might any other project:
- Identify the problem. If you find out you have an allergy, be sure to be tested for other related allergies as well. You won’t want to go through this process multiple times. Labs can often run multiple tests on a blood sample they have already taken from you, so request these tests upon confirmation, and skin tests can easily be done in batches.
- Educate yourself. Talk with your doctor and allergist, check out the best books on the subject from your local library, and go online to learn as much as you can about the allergy. Take copious notes and store the notes in an allergy-related folder for others in your home to read.
- Remove all of the allergen from your home, car, and office. Read every label on every product in your life — cleaners, soaps, food, etc. Make the places you live as allergen-free as possible, as quickly as possible. You want your home to be a safe haven.
- Educate others. By e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, letter, phone call blast the message about you or your child’s allergy. The more people who know, the more people can keep out a watchful eye in their homes, cars, and offices.
- Have the right supplies. Obviously, get an epi-pen and Benadryl to treat any reactions that might happen in the house and on the go. Additionally, get a convenient carrying pack to transport these objects with you every time you leave the house. For young children who can’t speak or don’t fully understand their allergy yet, get “I’m allergic to X” stickers or make your own for those times you won’t be together (playgroups, playgrounds, stores where free samples are distributed, etc.). Also, I recommend ordering cards from Select Wisely that identify the allergy in English, Spanish, and French. These cards are great for handing to servers in restaurants so they can ask the kitchen staff about the food ingredients.
- Retest at least once a year. Not all allergies are life-long afflictions. Be tested regularly to see if conditions improve or worsen.
This same approach works even if you’re not allergic to something, but simply trying to remove it from your life. If you’re interested in eating more healthy foods, remove all of the unhealthy foods from your life so you’re not tempted to eat them. Tempted to call someone who is a toxic element in your life? Delete their number from your cell phone to make it as inconvenient as possible.
If you or your child is recently diagnosed with an allergy, know that you’ll be okay in your allergen-free life … it just might take awhile to feel comfortable with it. Feel welcome to share any tips or tricks in the comments you’ve learned if allergies are a part of you or your child’s life.