Vaccine Allergy A Closer Look

If you’ve had reactions from eggs or gelatin, you may be allergic to routine vaccines. Learn how to minimize the reaction.
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A vaccine allergy is an extremely rare type of allergy, with only one to two serious allergic reactions being reported per million vaccinations given. But when a vaccine allergy does occur, it can be very serious, even life-threatening.
What Is a Vaccine Allergy?

Researchers believe that most people who have a vaccine allergy have an allergic sensitivity to one of two common vaccine ingredients: gelatin or egg protein.

Gelatin is used to help preserve viral components of the following vaccines:

Diphtheria, tetanus, acellular pertussis /DTaP (Tripedia)
Influenza (Fluzone, Flumist)
Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR II, Priorix)
Measles (Attenuvax)
Mumps (Mumpsvax)
Rubella (Meruvax II)
Rabies (Rabavert)
Shingles (Zostavax)
Varicella (Varivax)

Egg proteins are used to produce some vaccines including:

Influenza
Measles, mumps, and rubella
Yellow fever

If you are allergic to eggs, or have had an allergic reaction after eating a gelatin-containing food, you are at higher risk of having a vaccine allergy.
Symptoms of a Vaccine Allergy

Symptoms of a severe vaccine allergy may include:

Problems breathing
Weakness
Dizziness
Wheezing
Coughing
Vomiting
Diarrhea
Low blood pressure
Increased heart rate
Hives
Pale skin
Throat swelling

These symptoms usually come on quickly, within a few minutes or a few hours after receiving the vaccination. They are signs of anaphylaxis, which is a serious, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. If you, or anyone around you, experiences signs of anaphylaxis, contact emergency medical personnel immediately.

Other common reactions to vaccines, such as fever, pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site, or a mild rash, usually come on later and are usually not serious. But contact your doctor if you have any worrisome symptoms after receiving a vaccination.
Managing a Vaccine Allergy

Since people with a vaccine allergy become sensitized after being exposed to the allergen the first time, they are at high risk for future allergic reactions to vaccines. Subsequent allergic reactions to vaccines are usually more serious than the first.

Talk with your doctor if you have had symptoms of an allergic reaction after a vaccination, or if you are concerned that you may be at risk of having an allergic reaction from a vaccine. An allergist or immunologist may perform a skin prick or blood test to determine if you have a vaccine-associated allergy.

People who have a vaccine allergy can usually still get their recommended vaccinations. Methods for giving vaccinations to people with a vaccine allergy may involve:

Using an alternative form of the vaccine that you are not allergic to
Taking antihistamine or corticosteroid medications before your vaccination to help prevent or decrease an allergic reaction
Getting vaccinated under the supervision of your doctor in the presence of lifesaving medical equipment (for example, at an equipped clinic or hospital)
Testing for immunity to the disease being vaccinated against, and forgoing the vaccination if you already have immunity

Vaccinations are important for your health and the health of those around you. If you are concerned about a vaccine allergy, talk with your doctor, who can recommend a vaccination schedule that will be safe and effective for you.

7 Ways to Get Dust Mites Under Control

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Try these simple strategies to manage dust mite allergies.
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Winter can be tough on people who have allergies to dust mites, one of the biggest culprits when it comes to indoor allergies. As many as 10 percent of Americans are sensitive to dust mites and in some regions they play a role in 90 percent of allergic asthma cases, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Where Are Dust Mites Found?

Dust mites are everywhere, even in the cleanest of houses. “You can’t get rid of [dust mites]; there is no way,” says Julie McNairn, MD, an allergist/immunologist in Cincinnati. “You have to just contain them.” Dead dust mites and dust mite waste products make up some of the dust you can see floating in the air or sitting on a hard surface. They also live in your bedding, upholstered furniture, rugs, and carpeting.
Diagnosing Dust Mite Allergies

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis from dust mite allergens are like those from other causes of allergic rhinitis, including pollen, animal dander, and include itchy eyes and nose, sneezing, and a runny nose. Allergens from dust mites can also trigger asthma symptoms.

If you have asthma or sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy and watery eyes that bother you all year — or all season — long, an allergist can find out if dust mite allergens are triggering your symptoms.

Without allergy testing, it’ll be difficult to tell whether you’re reacting to dust mites or have an allergy to another substance, such as pollen or mold. But one clue, says Dr. McNairn, is that people with dust mite allergies tend to have the most severe symptoms first thing in the morning. The reason: “You have been sleeping in your room with the dust mites all night long,” McNairn says. “And your bedroom is where the dust levels are high.”
Managing Dust Mite Allergies

Allergy medications and immunotherapy (allergy shots) can help manage symptoms in people who have an allergy to dust mites. And while you can’t get rid of dust mites, you can learn to reduce your daily exposure to them, says McNairn. Here’s how.

Keep the relative humidity in your home below 50 percent. A dehumidifier placed in damp areas such as the basement can help accomplish this.
Replace carpeting with hard floor surfaces such as hardwood, linoleum, or tile.
Wash your bedding in hot water regularly.
Minimize the number of soft objects in your home that you can’t clean (stuffed animals and pillows, for instance).
Have a person who is not allergic to dust mites or other indoor allergens do the cleaning in your home.
If you clean, wear a face mask and goggles to limit your exposure to airborne dust mite allergens.
Consider replacing upholstered furniture with leather furniture, which can be wiped down.

It might take a little work to keep the dust mites under control, but it’ll be worth it — and your house will be cleaner for it.