The after effects of both the reaction and the medication can be difficult to deal with. I am usually exhausted for 24-48 hours and often have other symptoms such as stomach cramping, nausea, bloating, gas, diarrhea and headaches. Over the past few years I have found that there are things I can do to minimize both the reactions and the after effects.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and am not qualified to diagnose or treat any disease. Take responsibility for your own health. Do your own research. Find a good Doc that involves you in your treatment and listens to what you have to say.
- Do your research. When I was first diagnosed by my local allergist, I was told I had a tomato allergy. I was given an Epi-Pen, warned not to eat tomatoes and sent on my way. It took me months of continued reactions to figure out that I was also having problems with other foods in the same family---nightshades.
- No Dairy. There are many theories about dairy proteins and people feel very passionately on both sides of the dairy argument. I'm not an expert so here is some basic info from someone qualified to speak on the subject. But really the proof is in the pudding (so to speak). Try eliminating ALL dairy (butter is OK) from your diet for 7 days and see what happens. The first few days will be tough. According to some, dairy, especially cheese, has addictive qualities, making it very hard to give up. Remember, there are a lot of other great sources for calcium like leafy greens, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), broccoli, almonds and enriched non-dairy milks like rice or soy milk.
- Manage environmental allergies. If you have food allergies, chances are that you have other allergies or sensitivities as well. Limiting your exposure to other allergens, sublingual immunotherapy , and antihistamines if needed can reduce the overall allergic stress on your body. To simplify: if your body is already on alert from dealing with exposure to an environmental allergen, like tree or grass pollen, you may have a stronger reaction to an allergenic food. I have also discovered that I can reduce the severity of my seasonal allergies by avoiding foods that are cross-reactive to my environmental allergies during peak allergy seasons.
- Listen to your body. Pay attention to your body's signals when you eat. Not all reactions are sudden or severe. Notice subtle signals like a slight flush in your face, neck or ears or a tingling feeling on your tongue or even just a gut feeling. These signals can help you catch a mistake before it's too late. I had a funny feeling about a sauceless pizza at a restaurant. They assured me there was no sauce and the cutting board had been wiped down. I insisted to the server that there was something wrong and just then the chef coming running from the kitchen to stop me from eating. He had just realized that the pizza cutter hadn't been cleaned before they cut my pizza. It was cross contaminated. Noticing your responses can also help you and your Doctor diagnose an allergen that may have given false negative results on an allergy test, which are not always accurate.
- Control overall inflammation. More and more studies are showing that inflammation could be the root to many chronic health problems. Reducing inflammation in the body can improve your overall health and ability to deal with allergic stress. Eating a healthy diet, managing stress and specific supplements can help reduce inflammation. I take Vitamin C daily in addition to some of the supplements listed in the link as prescribed by my doctor.
- The most important step I have taken in minimizing the severity of an allergic reaction and is sublingual immunotherapy. Sublingual Immunotherapy is antigen drops taken under the tongue to reduce sensitivity to known allergens. It can be used in cases where the allergy is too severe for standard allergy shots, such as peanut allergy or in small children, and has a high rate of effectiveness. There has never been an anaphylactic reaction recorded in connection to the use of sublingual antigens. Ex: My son was diagnosed with a severe walnut allergy at age 3 1/2. Even a very small amount could be life threatening. Standard allergy treatment would suggest total avoidance and no preventive treatment other than daily antihistamine. Allergy shots could not be given because of possible danger of a reaction to the shot itself. However, at Allergy Associates of LaCrosse, he is being treated with sublingual immunotherapy to reduce his sensitivity to walnuts. The LaCrosse MethodTM can help reduce the severity of the allergy so that accidental exposures may be less severe.
After Exposure: (Always follow the treatment protocol advised by your Doctor for any allergic reaction. The following steps are meant to minimize discomfort and side effects after the reaction has been treated.)
- Rest: Remember that both an allergic reaction and the medication create stress on your body. It is typical to feel tired for a day or 2 after a reaction. Take it easy if possible and honor your body's need for additional rest.
- Hydrate: Lots of water will help your body process the offending food, histamines and other byproducts of the reaction from your system.
- Vitamin C is a natural anti-inflammatory. Histamine creates an inflammatory response in the body. I usually take 1000mg vitamin C with a large glass of water at the onset of a mild reaction. For more severe reactions that require medical intervention ask your doc if it would be appropriate to up your dosage of vitamin C for a few days to help reduce inflammation.
- Give your gut a break. Allergic reactions to food can cause all sorts of GI distress. Pamper your digestive system by giving it healthy, whole, non-processed, easy to digest foods. Peppermint and ginger also aid digestion and soothe the stomach.