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What Are the Different Treatments for an Allergic Reaction?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Treatments for an allergic reaction can range from home first aid to hospitalization. The most appropriate choice depends on the intensity and severity of a reaction. If a patient appears to have difficulty breathing or becomes disoriented, it is advisable to seek immediate attention in an emergency room. Severe reactions can be fatal and may turn deadly in minutes, making it important for patients to get care promptly.

Mild allergies may be treatable at home. Options can include oral antihistamines, topical creams to address rashes, and cold compresses for patients who experience inflammation and discomfort. Other home treatments for an allergic reaction include rest, to allow the patient to recover, and aspirin or similar medications for pain and soreness. People with a history of reactions may choose to take preventative drugs to reduce the risk of allergies, like oral medications for hay fever.

For a more severe reaction, first aid may be necessary to keep the patient stable, and hospitalization may be required. Patients who carry epinephrine for emergency administration can take it and should lie down to rest while waiting for medical care. It is important to pay attention to the patient's breathing and to keep the airway open. If the allergen is still present, it can be swabbed or scraped away to prevent further exposure; for example, if someone ate nuts, a bystander can sweep the nuts out of the patient's mouth.

In a hospital, treatments for an allergic reaction may involve epinephrine, aggressive steroids, and airway management. Some patients require intubation and mechanical ventilation until their airways are more stable. Intravenous fluids can prevent shock, and make the patient more comfortable. Patients who become agitated may need sedation to keep them relaxed while in treatment. After hospital care, measures like antihistamines and rest to control the aftermath of the reaction may be advised.

The best treatments for an allergic reaction can vary. Mild allergic reactions sometimes evolve into serious ones over the course of patient's life. This makes it important for people to pay attention to changes in the intensity of allergies, as these may be warning signs that an allergen is triggering a more severe response.

Preventative care for allergies is also an option. Patients with known allergies can avoid triggers and take medication to level immune responses so their reactions are not as severe. Allergy shots may be available for some patients. In a series of injections, an allergy specialist carefully desensitizes the patient to make it safe to be around dangerous triggers.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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