www.whyville.net Aug 3, 2008 Weekly Issue

Times Writer

Stay Away!

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When I was 4 years-old my family invited some friends over. I had a great time running around setting up streamers and blowing balloons. It was really fun! My allergies were finally settling down so I wasn't sniffing like I usually was. The doorbell rang and when my mother answered it she glanced my way to make sure I was there to greet the guests. But there was a problem. My lips looked like those sausages you eat with your pancakes. They were swollen and red and itched like crazy. My mother had no idea what was going on. And then it struck her. I was allergic to latex!

Other than latex I am also allergic to cats, mold, and bananas. Yes, bananas (So stay away Lopan!). I also struggle with seasonal allergies and am constantly on medications for sinus infections. And I also get nosebleeds at least 5 times every month! I'm a sinus mess!

I'm here today to marvel with you with my exciting life because I want to keep those of you with allergies SAFE from what you're allergic to! (And even those without allergies!)

Step #1: Go to an allergist.

Even if you're sure you're not allergic to anything go in for a check-up anyway. An allergist is someone who can help treat your allergies. They can't cure them but they can give you medicines to make your life much easier!

They will ask you lots of questions. Like, do you find yourself sneezing indoors or outdoors? Do you notice yourself getting itchy around animals?

The allergist will then do a series of tests where they prick your skin with needles. It sounds scary but this is what to expect:

Rapid skin testing is the quickest and painless way to test for allergies. What they will use is a small, dullish needle with a top that looks like a giant tack. A nurse will probably take a pen and write on your upper arm or wrist what they are putting into you. Like "banana" or "latex." They will very quickly dab your wrist or upper arm with the giant tack. You won't feel a thing. They will do this for as many boxes are on your arms. If parts of your wrist/upper arm start to itch that means you are allergic to whatever they dabbed you with.

They might also bring out a real needle. *gasp* I'm not going to lie to you. This one hurts.

They will probably ask you to lie on your side and lift up part of your shirt revealing your hip and half of your back. They will then take out the needle and put it in sideways. It feels like someone's pinching you. But it's over very quickly. Again, if it itches, you're allergic to it.

So what EXACTLY are so bad about allergies? Well, if you get close enough to or eat whatever you're allergic to you could get an allergic reaction. Here are some symptoms that could happen during an allergic reaction:

- You could get hives, which are similar to chicken pox.
- Your nose could start sneezing or itching like crazy.
- If you ate something your tongue could start itching or swelling up.
- Parts of your body could start swelling if the thing you're allergic to touched you.
- Your airway in your throat could start swelling and shut, making it impossible to breath.
- You could vomit.

An allergic reaction can seem like you have the chicken pox! But what makes it so dangerous is because you could stop breathing. What allergists recommend for protection against allergic reactions is an EpiPen.

An EpiPen is a needle with epinephrine, a type of drug that can help open up air passage ways and get rid of your allergy symptoms. You are only supposed to use this when your tongue or air passage way start swelling. An EpiPen is a round, spherical tube with a gray cap at one end and a black at the other. It may come in a case. (Ex: A clear tube with a green cap.)

How do you use an EpiPen?

Step #1: Take off the gray cap at the end.
Step #2: Insert black cap with needle poking out into thigh for 10 seconds.

The effects should start working immediately. You only use an EpiPen during an emergency. And if you do have to use it, go to the hospital immediately after you do.

Your allergist might also prescribe medicines for seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies aren't as half as bad as food or other allergies.

Symptoms for seasonal allergies could be: - Headaches
- Runny nose
- Sinus infections
- Itchy eyes

The best over the counter medication in my opinion for seasonal allergies is Clariton.

Okay, now that I've told you everything an allergist can do to keep you safe I'm going to tell you what to do for YOUR sake and will use my allergies as an example.

I'm going to use just latex as an example. Latex is a material used in balloons, gloves like at the dentist, band-aids, and rubber bands.

Latex is becoming a very common allergy around the U.S. and now hospitals have banned latex gloves, balloons, etc. from the premises because of accidents that could happen. What do you do if you have a latex allergy?

Here are some tips I made up myself!

1. When you're at a dentist, doctor's office, orthodontist, dermatologist, etc. be sure that the doctor does not touch you with latex gloves. If you don't realize this and he/she's already got her hands in her mouth or touching your body your allergic reaction could start and it could be too late!
2. Stay away from balloons at parties. Be sure to remind your friend if you are invited to a party that you are allergic to latex and kindly ask them to NOT use balloons.
3. When buying band-aids look for latex-free.
4. Ask your dermatologist if they latex in rubber bands is enough to give you an allergic reaction. If yes, then stay away from those too!

Latex is a tricky allergy. At my church they have a thing with balloons and often use them during group activities. It is a pain that I can't throw balloons around or use latex gloves instead of those nasty, slippery vinyl gloves. But life moves on!

Another very tricky allergy is food allergies. They are extremely dangerous because unlike latex and other allergies these can get INSIDE your body if you eat them! I shall use my food allergy, bananas, as an example.

1. If you're going to a party ask the host what kinds of foods will be there. You don't want to eat a banana hidden in your ice cream!
2. If you're allergic to bananas, smoothie shops are an absolute NO. Even though it may say "Strawberry Smoothie" at the Smoothie King they might slip some bananas in there to give it some extra creaminess.
3. If you walk into a kitchen and there is a pile of bananas on the counter ask someone kindly to remove them. You might break out even if you're in the same room with them.
4. If you're at a dinner party and there happens to be some bananas floating in that red jello, don't even put any on your plate. You don't want some of that jello to leak on to your pasta salad!
5. Ask your parents to not buy bananas at all. Keep them out of sight, out of mind.

But, what if you're allergic to an animal? I'm going to use my common allergy to cats as an example too!

1. If you're at a friend's house and they have a cat ask them to put it in another room.
2. If the cat does happen to touch you be sure to wash the part of your body where they rubbed against you thoroughly.
3. Do NOT let the cats sleep with you. Their fur could cause you to get clogged up at night and you could develop asthma.
4. Don't touch them. If you do, wash your hands.

And finally, if you're allergic to something such as mold or dust mites here are helpful tips to stay healthy and away! (Using mold as an example . . .)

1. Mold can be found everywhere but mostly near plants. Stay away from things such as corn or tobacco that are growing around your community when they are being cut down. The stalks could be filled with that yucky green stuff!
2. Get a de-humidifier for your room. It helps clean the air and get rid of water.
3. If you're allergic to dust mites, dust your house often but have someone else do it for you! And if you're allergic to mold or mildew be sure to clean your bathroom often too!

Hopefully you will be able to relate to keep yourself protected. Here is one last excellent tip before I leave you today. I would recommend getting a medical bracelet. Here is what they look like:

They can come in all sorts of colors! And you can get waterproof too if you're a swimmer!

On one side of the bracelet there is a metal tag with the medical sign on it. If you flip it over you can get what you're allergic to engraved on it. Like mine says. "ALLERGIC TO LATEX AND BANANAS." These are extremely helpful. Let's say you're in a car accident and you need surgery. The doctors and nurses could see your medical bracelet and realize you are allergic to latex so they don't use latex gloves.

Well, I hope this article leaves you safe and secure for future, uh, allergy involved situations.

This is msof57 going to stand on her head. *honk*

Dang it I want a banana . . .

Author's Note: Sources: http://www.healthology.com/allergies/article36.htm


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