May 05, 2013

allergy schmallergy

disclaimer: i am not a doctor. i am only sharing the things i learned from my doctors. always visit your doctor first! 

allergies are rusty thorns in the spine. it is a hindrance to a wonderfully crafted travel itinerary. you'd get checked twice in airport terminals for having red eyes. you could even be quarantined for whatever signs you show which are associated with pandemic diseases. people will evade you when you sneeze (which sometimes can be an advantage when ramming yourself through a huge crowd hehehehe). it also spoils intimate moments with loved ones while watching a beautiful sunset. you can't eat your favorite food. in worst cases, it can be life threatening.

i am allergic to almost everything. i admire my dad for his achievements in life and for his wanderlust but if there's one thing i could blame my dad for, it's inheriting his allergies. i always get bad cases of sniffles in the morning and during season shifts. i have seen my left arm mutate into majin buu's after a hairy caterpillar (aka higad) landed on my skin. i also have sniffles which, before, if not attended to immediately, eventually led to asthma. to date, the worst allergic reaction i could remember (and i will never forget) was fainting after being attacked by a swarm of wasps after i hurled green muntingia (aka aratiles... yes i was a kid when i did it!) at a small hive in our old house's garden. the next thing i remember was waking up in a hospital with a doctor injecting a large syringe with yellow liquid into my neck! amidst all these, the good news is, you can control your allergies. but first thing's first...


^^ SEE THE EMPHASIS? if your poor judgement concludes that my post will help you solve your allergy problems, please be advised that i am not a psychic distance healer. GO TO THE DOCTOR!

although you can consult google or your friends, they, rather, we are not registered doctors! the worst advice i have heard so far was to expose yourself to your allergens for immunity. these are true and untrue! always remember that allergies are life threatening. as a general rule for allergies, what you consume and expose yourselves to can kill you. if the doctor tells you to consume small amounts for immunity, it may be the case that your body can and will still tolerate it based on assessment and tests. the worst you can get with allergies is anaphylactic shock as what i've experienced with wasps. reality check, people die of allergies to seafood so if you think your immunities can always tolerate everything you're eating, think again.

going to the dermatologist is the first big step you should do. they're not only good with getting rid of acne but in saving your life! 

go to the derma!

when you go to the dermatologist, as for a prick/scratch or a patch test. the procedure would be pricking your skin with all possible allergens which any person could be hypersensitive to. once your allergens have been identified, you should avoid places or food which you are highly allergic to. 

prick test (googled image)
as a reminder, procedures related to allergies are not covered by most hmo. most only cover consultation so you need to bring extra cash with you if a test needs to be done. it won't cost you more than 2000.00 php for a prick test.

after identifying your allergies, you must visit a specialist to thoroughly examine your allergy-prone areas. a general practitioner can help you as well but specialists give thorough examination. just talk to a medical specialist so s/he can prescribe you the right medicines. most of the medications in conventional medicine are steroid-based, which means that they should only be taken in tapered dosages in a certain period of time. like any other medicine, they have side effects. i was an anti-histamine junkie for quite a long time because it made me sleep easily. i only realized the value of what i was doing when the pill i took didn't work anymore in an allergic reaction i had in one of my travels! here are the list of specialists i have visited so far.

my medicines for all my allergies as of the moment. i blurred the image so you won't self-medicate!

for all allergies related to the skin and food allergies. depending on your allergens, the derma would require you to change your lifestyle. if diagnosed with skin allergies, the derma would require you to change your soap and lotion to a compounded formula or with mild ones sold in the market. for food allergies, your derma would require you to have a food journal so you can both determine which food and/or ingredients you have to avoid. my former boss is allergic to his own sweat and was advised to avoid certain food which would make his sweat too acidic.

in most cases, allergic rhinitis can lead to allergic asthma. since the latter can be deadly, the pulmonologist would prescribe you with steroid-based inhalants and salbutamol sprays. if you are given steroid-based inhalants, you have to have good oral hygiene as it would make your teeth brittle and prone to tooth decay. 

sometimes, general practitioners think you have sore eyes because eye allergies and sore eyes share almost the same symptoms. the difference is 'sore eyes' is a contagious viral infections. an opthalmologist will help you identify which is which.

aka the ear, nose, and throat doctor. if you always have snuffles in the morning or whenever the season shifts and it has been bugging you since you were a kid, go to the ent. an ent will give you nasal sprays and saline solutions to control your allergic rhinitis. if the snuffles are unattended, you may develop nasal polyps.

traditional medicine

acupunture (googled image)

if you're not a fan of the "conventional western medicine", you can visit a traditional chinese medicine doctor who could help you identify the weak points that causes your allergies. in most cases, people with allergies have weak livers and kidneys. your tcm doctor will help you balance your "qi" () to help your body control your allergies. the procedures may require acupucture and moxibustion, herbal medicines, change in diet, and breathing exercises. if you drink coffee in the morning, replace coffee with green tea as it has natural anti-histamines.

a moxa consists of compounded herbs in a large stick. this helps if you have asthma or allergic rhinitis. blurred image so you won't self-medicate!

what works best?

as far as healing is concerned, both approaches work and it depends on which your body responds best. the difference is tcm has a slower but holistic approach when it comes to healing. in most cases, i visit a specialist first before going to the tcm doctor so i could compare both findings. needless to say, both require a change in lifestyle to help you heal yourself. just last year, i achieved a health milestone. after 2 and a half years, i was able to get rid of my asthma attacks which often proceeded after my allergic rhinitis through the help of exercise, diet changes, and acupuncture.

traveling tips for the highly allergic

here are some tips to control your allergies while traveling:

me wearing a rash guard ina a mountaineering trip at tarak ridge
  1. always bring your medicines. ask your doctors how you should take each medicine and be sure to follow the instructions. a drug for maintenance is different from the one you use for attacks. if you know acupuncture, bring sterilized sets of needles in a screw-capped test tube and disposable ones.
  2. inform the organizer of the trip about your allergies. in all cases, always inform the organizer what you are highly allergic to especially if the trip your are joining is inclusive of food and drinks or if the location would expose you to allergens such as zoos, forests, etc. this way, you'd be provided of the food you can only eat, the organizers would prepare for your allergy attacks, or kick you out of the event for the team's safety :P
  3. inform your organizer who your doctors are and their contact numbers. in case of emergency, your doctors know your health history and should be able to advise the attending medical team how you should be handled.
  4. bring your own toiletries. you should bring your own toiletries especially if your doctor required you to use compounded soaps, shampoos, and lotions. even if you are not allergic, you should still bring your own. 
  5. bring your own sleeping bag or malong. if you think the accommodation would not have decent beds, you must bring your own.
  6. bring rash guards. rash guards are your first lines of defense against skin allergies. wearing rash guards can be irritating most of the time if the weather resembles a microwave oven so you should also ventilate yourself well. if you are a diver, you must have your own wetsuit and it should not be a shortie. you should also have mouth mufflers to prevent your mouth from being exposed to allergens underwater. 
  7. bring emergency food. if you are traveling out of town or out of the country and you are not sure of what you are eating, always stash food you can eat. in my case, i always have a can of tuna.
  8. ask what the food ingredients are and inform the waiter about your allergies. if you are dining out, always ask for the food's ingredients. there are times that you can eat them still with medicines so you should know the food you can easily tolerate. 
this is a different kind of muffler which i bought from nautilus

have an allergy-free adventure!

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