The incessant sneezing, the itchy, watery eyes, the persistent coughing, the red, scratchy hives, the sick, relentless fear that someday you’ll have to pull out that EpiPen and plunge it into your child’s thigh—the misery of allergies…it has some of us by the throat– literally or figuratively. Either way, allergy care is no fun and I am here to say that when you or your kids suffer from allergies, life is not easy.
But there are ways to make it smoother. There are products such as medicine, foods, clothing, bedding, cleaning solutions, and even first aid supplies that can make your life better and safer. Allergy care can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. I’ve compiled a list of some of the best products around to make your life, and the lives of your family, a little less of a hassle or even less of a hazard.
Some of the most dangerous allergens around are found in everyday foods. According to The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, between 4-6% of American children suffer from food allergies. Gluten, eggs, milk, sulfa, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, and corn are the evil big ones, but there are plenty more where those came from. I know people who are allergic to coconuts, tomatoes, carrots, other vegetables, and people who are sensitive to proteins, carbohydrates, or fats. So many people have so many food sensitivities that it’s become big business. The gluten-free industry has gotten a little out of hand, if you want my humble opinion.
According to WebMD, a gluten-free diet is not for everyone. “It’s really a diet for people who have a health condition that makes gluten hurt their gut like celiac disease. If that’s not you, then giving up foods with gluten could cause you to fall short on nutrients like fiber and B vitamins.” The video article goes on to say that cutting back on gluten probably won’t even help you lose weight.
But it’s truly wonderful that people like my friend Jessica, who has celiac disease, and my sister Rebecca, who has a pretty bad gut sensitivity to gluten, now have so many choices when it comes to gluten-free options along with other food allergy care choices. I’ve rounded up a bunch of highly rated, yummy, not-too-expensive products that are easily available at the local health food store or right here on this page. Everything from lollipops to brownies to pretzels is at your fingertips. You’re welcome. 🙂
NOTE OF CAUTION: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE read every label for yourself!! I do not know exactly what you or your child is allergic to! This guide is in no way intended for every person or for every food allergy out there. No matter what your sensitivity is, ALWAYS be cautious and read every label before consuming any food, no matter whose list it appears on!!!
Gluten Free Nut Free Granola Bars, FreeYumm Honey Apple Oat Bars, School Safe Allergen Free Snacks, 15 CountEnjoy Life Semi-Sweet Chocolate Mini-Chips, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free + Soy-Free, Vegan + Paleo, 10 Ounce Bags (Pack of 6)Red Plate Foods Soft Cookies Variety Pack, Nut Free, Gluten Free, Vegan/Dairy Free, 16 Individual Cookies 2.2 oz each (4 of each flavor)Enjoy Life Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour Mix, Gluten, Dairy, Nut & Soy Free and Vegan, 16 OunceEnjoy Life Dark Chocolate Morsels 9 Ounce Bags (Pack of 12)Wholesome Chow Organic Gluten Free Frosting Mix, Vanilla, 7.2 OunceSunButter Organic Sunflower Seed Spread, 16-Ounce Plastic Jars (Pack of 6)All Natural, Gluten Free, Kelis Hawaiian Ginger Garlic Teriyaki Glaze, 15 oz
Quinn Snacks Non-GMO and Gluten Free Pretzels, Classic Sea Salt, 3 CountGluten Free Nut Free Granola Bars, FreeYumm Chocolate Chip Oat Bars, School Safe Allergen Free Snacks, 15 CountEnjoy Life Soft Baked Cookies, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Nut-Free and Soy-Free, Variety Pack, Chocolate Chip/ Double Chocolate Brownie/Snickerdoodle/Gingerbread Spice, 6 Ounce (Pack of 6)YumEarth Organic Lollipops, 12.3 Ounce Bag (Packaging May Vary)Surf Sweets Organic Jelly Bean Snack Packs, 0.8-Ounce Packages (Pack of 24)Enjoy Life Not Nuts! Mountain Mambo Seed and Fruit Mix, Gluten, Dairy, Nut & Soy Free, 6-Ounce Pouch (Pack of 6)
I’m putting a special note in here about sulfa because it’s a lesser known evil killer, but a just-as-deadly-as -peanut-killer, allergen and well, this is my blog and nothing will snap my airway closed quicker than a dried apricot so I figured I’d put a couple of yummy dried fruits in here for all my fellow sulfa allergy sisters and brothers out there.
A fabric allergy (such as rubber latex–which means most spandex) can go from mild to bad to life-threatening in a heart beat or two. In my case, my latex allergy went from tiny red irritated bumps to head-to toe weals overnight–literally.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, those most at risk for a severe latex allergy are children with spina bifida (more than 3 out of every five children who suffer from the disease), children who have frequent or lengthy medical procedures such as surgeries, and healthcare workers. But others can be at risk as well. It usually takes many exposures to latex to develop a sensitivity and a mild sensitivity is almost always present before it becomes severe. A blood test can be done to determine what type of allergy you have to latex, but won’t be definitive and will not be able to determine whether you will ever develop a severe reaction.
I went to bed one night in some PJ’s that were 5% spandex and the next day I was COVERED in weals from the top of my scalp to the bottoms of my feet. Since I actively shopped for easy care clothing that contained a bit of spandex (because that much latex had never bothered me before; just wearing rubber gloves or being exposed to latex like Bandaids for longer periods irritated me), almost nothing in my wardrobe was wearable. My mother had to raid her own closet and take me on an emergency shopping trip to Macey’s to buy me a few staples until I could slowly build a wardrobe back up. I had to, I kid you not, order special underwear that cost $25 A PAIR! It is not easy being a plus size woman and having a latex allergy, let me tell ya. Luckily, Mom had a new pack of Jockey panties which are cotton and have covered elastic. They are good for many washes and wears. But once they start to wear out, they are done. You must throw them out and get new ones. Don’t risk your life for a comfy pair of panties. I highly recommend going the expensive route and having your bras and panties custom made by Decent Exposures if you are plus size. It is well worth the expense. In the mean time, here are are some alternatives for the entire family, no matter what size, that are less expensive.
Underworks Women’s Sleep and Leisure Bra 3-Pack White 52-54-bcdLeading Lady Women’s Plus-Size Latex Free Cotton Bra, White, 42 BJockey Women’s Underwear Plus Size Elance French Cut – 3 Pack, black, 8Cottonique Organic Cotton Low Rise Brief Panty – 2 Pack (W22205) 5/BlackMen’s Elasticized Loose Boxer Shorts (Medium, Black)Latex-free Socks (2 pack) (Large, Black)Lucky & Me Lily Girls Underwear, Organic Cotton Briefs, Cotton Candy, 3-Pack, 6City Threads Boys’ Striped Boxer Briefs 3-Pack Cotton/Poly Blend; For Sensitive Skin and Sensory Friendly SPD Made in the USA, Char/Elf/Smurf, 8
There are other fabric and feather allergies as well and sometimes it is best to stick with organics in your bedding and other household fabrics. Here’s a roundup of some of the best, most highly rated products I was able to find.
Snuggle-Pedic Ultra-Luxury Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow Combination With Adjustable Fit and Zipper Removable Kool-Flow Micro-Vented Cover – StandardBambooMN Brand – 6 Super Soft 12100% Organic Cotton Luxury Bath Towel- Made Here by 1888 Mills (2pk)Organic Comfort Down Alternative Comforter. King LightSUSYBAO 3 Pieces Duvet Cover Set 100% Cotton Queen Size 1 Duvet Cover 2 Pillow Shams Lavender Luxury Hotel Quality Ultra Soft Breathable Hypoallergenic Fade Stain Wrinkle Resistant with Zipper TiesOrganic Nido 600 Thread Count, 19 Inches Deep Pocket, 100% Natural Cotton, Soft And Comfortable, Extra Soft BEDDING WITH GOTS Certification, 4 Piece Organic Cotton Sheet Set (King, White)
There are two over-the-counter medications that work better than any prescription according to my allergist, Dr. Mark Ebadi, MD of Colorado Allergy and Asthma Centers, PC. They are Benadryl, which has the unfortunate side effect of making many people sleepy (in fact I took it as a safe sleep aid when I was pregnant), but is the most effective medication out there, and Zyrtec, which is far more powerful than any prescription drug. There are good prescription antihistamines out there that double as heartburn medications. But please ask your pharmacist or gastroenterologist before taking them at the same time as a proton pump inhibitor (such as Protonix or Nexium) as they can cancel each other out and cause some serious acid reflux (as I found out to my stomach’s chagrin one time). Here are two generic alternatives:
Diphenhydramine HCI 25 Mg – Kirkland Brand – Allergy Medicine and AntihistamineCompare to Active Ingredient of Benadryl® Allergy Generic – 600 CountKirkland Signature Aller-Tec Cetirizine Hydrochloride Tablets, 10 mg, 365 Count
Latex-Free First Aid
When you or your child with a latex allergy has a scrape, burn, or sprain, the last thing you want to do is exacerbate it with an allergic reaction. Here are some safe ways to treat an injury at home or before help arrives:
Coleman Expedition 205-Piece All Purpose First Aid Kit for Emergencies at Home, Camping, Car, Workplace, Hiking or SurvivalHGP Cotton Elastic Bandages 2 Pack – Self Adhesive Latex Free Wrap With Touch Closure at Both Ends – Extra Wide 4 Inch X 15 Feet Long – Precise Compression With No Clips or Tape for Knee Leg or AnkleFirst-aid Planets & Stars Bandages – 100 Per Pack by SmileMakersMedique 62178 Medi-First Latex Free Woven Bandages, Extra Long, 3/4-Inch X 4-11/16-Inch, 40-Per BoxSuperior RDCNPF KeepKleen Contour Work Nitrile Gloves, Latex Free Glove, Disposable Gloves, Powder Free, 4 mil Thickness, 93m Micropore Surgical Tape 1/2Bordered Gauze, 6 X 6, Latex-Free, Sterile 25/Bx by Reliamed
At the first hint of sneezing, runny nose, or that horrible ache in your sinuses that you just know is an incoming infection, break out the Neilmed sinus rinse. My doctor will whip out his pen and script pad to write up a Ciprofloxacin (yes, the anthrax medicine!) prescription the moment my snot turns green and ugly and I get a sinus headache because I get infections like other people get junk mail. But he also asks The Question: “How many times a day are you rinsing?” And if the answer isn’t an enthusiastic, “Four!” he tells me I get an “F” for the day. That’s because a four times daily sinus rinse is as important as prescription medication during a sinus infection AND during sinus allergy season (both of which are intimately related). It sucks and it’s yucky, but ya gotta do it. Dr. Hansen and I say so. Here it is:
Let your children’s teachers, care takers, other parents, and even on-the-ball strangers know about their EpiPens with colorful jewelry and backpack alerts. Customizable medical alert jewelry is available on Amazon and elsewhere, but here are some other fun, stylish, and highly rated products:
Kids, Child, – PINK – Girls Medical Alert ID Bracelet, Adjustabe – Free Medical ID Wallet Card Incld.MyIDDr- Kids, Child, – BLUE – Boys Medical Alert ID Bracelet, Adjustabe – Free Medical ID Wallet Card Incld.AllerMates Black/Gray EpiPen CaseHenry the Buttonsmith Epipen Bag Tag Set (Basic)
Pet and Seasonal Allergies
At the exact moment my latex allergy went berserk, so did my seasonal, cat, dog, and horse allergies. I had five cats at the time. I will probably never ride a horse again. I freaking love horses. I cried for DAYS because I thought I would have to live a life without animal companionship. In the end, I could not face living without my fur babies and now I just put up with the constant itchiness of weals all over my body (even in my arm pits–I mean, why my arm pits? It’s not like I’m rubbing cats into my arm pits). I down Benadryl and Zyrtec like they’re going out of style. I really should vacuum a ton more. A HEPA filter, some anti-allergen spray, and Pergo flooring do help. I also wash my bedding every week in hot water and All Free Clear, an anti allergen laundry detergent with no dyes or scent. There’s no getting away from the hives or weals, the itchy eyes, or the sinus stuff if you’re going to decide to share your home with someone you’re allergic to. But there’s lots you can do to make it more comfortable for everyone. Here are my top picks for making your home more more habitable:
Pogi’s Grooming Wipes – 100 Deodorizing Wipes for Dogs & Cats – Large, Hypoallergenic, Fragrance-FreeBISSELL 2X Allergen Cleansing Full Size Machine Formula, 60 ounces, 89Q5AEndust Fragrance Free Hypo Allergenic Dusting and Cleaning Spray, 2 CountFebreze Fabric Refresher Allergen Reducer Unscented Air Freshener (1 Count, 500 Ml)Allergen Wash Laundry Detergent 24 oz.Swiffer 360 Dusters Extendable Handle Starter Kit, 3 Count Duster RefillShark Navigator Lift-Away Professional with Dust-Away & 2 Microfiber Pads (NV356E)Dyson V8 Animal Cordless Stick Vacuum – Nickel
GermGuardian AC4825 3-in-1 Air Cleaning System with True HEPA Filter, UV-C Sanitizer, Allergen and Odor Reduction, 22-Inch Air PurifierAlen BreatheSmart Customizable Air Purifier with HEPA-Pure Filter for Allergies and Dust (White, 1-Pack)
My allergist, Dr. Ebadi, says skin care is important for controlling hives and weals when it comes to contact dermatitis. If your hives or weals are particularly out of control, he recommends taking two showers a day, soaping down your entire body three times during both showers (I know, such a pain, but SO worth it), patting dry very gently, and then rubbing on some gentle, non-botanical lotion. Take care of your skin with Vanicream products–the only line he recommends. Bonus! It is cruelty free and vegan! You may have to either order it online or ask your pharmacist for it as it is often held behind the counter, but it is available without a prescription.
Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream with pump for sensitive skin – can be used for eczema, psoriasis, ichthyosis, and itch – dermatologist tested – free of dye, fragrance, and preservatives – 16 ozVanicream Cleansing Bar, Fragrance Free, 3.9 Ounce Bars (Pack of 3)Vanicream Sunscreen SPF 50+, 4 Oz (2 Pack)Vanicream Anti-Perspirant/Deodorant for sensitive skin – clinical strength, 24-hour protection – fragrance free, preservative free – dermatologist tested – 2.25 ounceVanicream HC 1% Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream -maximum OTC strength – fragrance free, dye free, preservative free – dermatologist tested -2 ounceVaniply Ointment Tube – skin protectant – gently soothes dry, irritated, itchy skin and chaffing – dermatologist tested – preservative free – 2.5 ounce
One of the most “FUN” parts of allergies is finding foods that work for you or your children. Well, let’s face it, fun is in the eye/spoon of the cook. Either you can approach it as a challenge to be met head on or you can moan and groan and complain. I would go with the latter. But you are made of tougher stuff than I am, so you’re going to have a much easier time of it than I would. Here are some great, super popular cookbooks to get you started.
The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook: Revolutionary Techniques. Groundbreaking Recipes.The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook Volume 2: New Whole-Grain Flour Blend, 75+ Dairy-Free RecipesThe Allergen-Free Baker’s HandbookAllergy-Free and Easy Cooking: 30-Minute Meals without Gluten, Wheat, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Fish, Shellfish, and SesameThe Food Allergy Mama’s Easy, Fast Family Meals: Dairy, Egg, and Nut Free Recipes for Every DayComplete Allergy-Free Comfort Foods Cookbook: Every Recipe Is Free Of Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Nuts, And Eggs
Allergy care can be approached creatively and with optimism or it can be a complete nightmare. How does your family tackle the challenges that you face? Have you had a serious brush with allergies or do you square off against day to day frustrations and irritations of itchiness and other discomforts? What are your favorite remedies, snacks, products, or fixes? We want to hear all about how you solve your family’s allergy concerns in the comments below!
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