How to Stay Calm During an Allergic Reaction
My Aunt made a beautiful cake for the family birthday party this evening; piped with bright orange swirls and decorated with orange and brown Smarties. I had taken a bite of the chocolate cake and popped one of the Smarties in my mouth before my cousin Jacob, who I still owe a huge thank you to, told me that the Smarties were filled with peanut butter. This is only the second time I've ever eaten something with a nut inside. As I went through my mental checklist of things I need to do to make sure that my body can handle a reaction, and won't have to go to the hospital, I realized that this would be good information to share.
Not everyone had the same type of reaction to food allergies, but here are my general steps to handling an allergic reaction:
1. Take Benadryl immediately - My allergies are not so bad that I have to grab as EpiPen as soon as nuts are in the room, but once I eat an allergen, I know I need to help my body out, and fast. I took three Benadryl capsules about a minute after eating the Smartie and that makes a huge difference.
2. Try as best as you can to calm down and take your mind off of it - As soon as I can feel a reaction, there is a real fear in my head. If I am in a group, I may try to remove myself from the area for a little bit, stand outside for some air. Watching something on TV or reading a book is also helpful. By taking a few deep breaths and trying to clear my mind, it helps my body work better and fighting off the reaction.
3. Eat something you're not allergic to - I know this sounds a little weird, but after I have eaten eggs or nuts, I will eat something else because it seems to confuse my body. If the reaction is fairly mild, by eating a few handfuls of potato chips it seems to soothe my stomach and give my body more energy. It is one of the most helpful ideas I've ever come up with, it seems to lessen all the other symptoms I experience in a reaction.
4. Listen to your body and use and EpiPen if you feel you need to - I will know how I'm reacting to something better than anyone else around me because it's definitely happened a few times. If the tingling mouth, hives, instant sore throat and I begin to have difficulty breathing, I will use an EpiPen immediately. It's not worth the risk.
5. Ask for help - This does contradict point number two in a way, but every situation is different, so not all of these steps may be helpful at the same time. If you know you're having a reaction and you're scared and know that is doesn't feel right, don't try to handle it alone. I try to teach all of my friends how to use an EpiPen so if I am not able to, I can trust someone to help me. Even if it's something as simple as having someone sit and talk with you about how you are feeling or help you take your mind off the situation, it never hurts to say something about it.
How do handle your allergic reactions? Are you left like me and often fearing dessert at birthday parties?