How to Stay Calm During an Allergic Reaction
Last updated: April 2023
Having an allergic reaction can be one of the scariest events to happen to you. There is nothing more frightening than being completely fine one moment and immediately feeling like you will die the next. During these moments, it's important to try to stay calm.
In my personal allergies experience, I deal with food allergies. I grew up being able to eat anything I wanted and had no allergies. In my early 20s, I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease and IBS, and things changed drastically with food for me. Due to the nature of the disease, I became intolerant and allergic to several food groups.
Allergic reactions range from mild to severe
There is a scale to allergies like anything in life: mild to severe. At the moment, I have to be diligent with avoiding dairy and wheat. I get an immediate mild reaction seconds after ingesting them if I don't.
Interestingly enough, sweating is a common reaction for me. It's strange, but it happens to me. In addition, my throat gets itchy, and I find myself having cough attacks. Of course, this is a mild reaction and doesn't make me think my world will end.
An anxiety-inducing allergic reaction
However, I have only had 1 horrific experience with a severe allergic reaction, and it was related to an iron infusion. Due to Crohn's, I struggle with iron deficiency anemia. Therefore, I often have to receive iron infusions since I don't tolerate oral iron tablets. By the grace of God, when this reaction occurred, I was in a hospital, so I had nurses and doctors by my side within seconds.
How to stay calm during an allergic reaction
But what happens if you aren't near medical care during a severe allergic reaction? What are some ways to remain calm to get through the reaction or receive proper help? Here are some things I have learned:
1. Breathe deeply
In a severe reaction where you feel like your throat is closing and you can't breathe, it is essential to tell yourself to remain calm and take deep breaths. If panic sets in, we take short, tiny breaths making things worse.
It is a total mind game, but you must remain calm and take deep breaths. Of course, if your throat is closing, this tip doesn't work. But if you have an episode where your airway is even partially open, this is key.
2. Think positive thoughts
Again, if you have a reaction and your inner thoughts are negative, things will go south quickly. You have to train yourself to remain calm within the reaction, which is easier said than done.
But when I felt like I was going to die, literally, I kept repeating in my head, "this soon will pass, this soon will pass, you will get through this." Whatever it is you say, make sure it is positive and helpful towards the situation.
3. Use an EpiPen
Use your EpiPen immediately and calmly if you experience an anaphylactic reaction. Always have your pen in a location where you know exactly where to find it. For example, put it in a zipper compartment in a purse rather than throw it in the bottom of the bag mixed with other items. Your EpiPen should be located where you can quickly access it without thinking.
4. Ask for help and support
Wave someone down, yell out for help, and do so calmly so you can focus on breathing. When I felt the reaction begin, I immediately yelled out to the infusion nurse, "I don't feel well; I need help!"
The nurse immediately stopped my infusion, saw my face turn bright red and my struggle to breathe, and she reached for a steroid to inject me with. But again, I was able to get help quickly by communicating clearly.
5. Sip on water
If you can, drinking small sips of water is always helpful. Also, if you can't catch your breath, holding ice cubes in your hands helps control your breathing and helps bring you out of a panic attack.
What are some other tips you can share to help get you through an allergic reaction?
Of course, there are many kinds, from mild to severe, but suggestions are helpful.
How often do you connect with others who have food allergies?