Allergies are nothing to sneeze at

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Allergies are an overreaction of your immune system to things that generally do not affect other people — like pollen, animal hair, peanuts, and bee stings. Allergic reactions can range from sneezing and itching to life-threatening respiratory distress. If you have any symptoms you think are caused by an allergy, you should talk with your doctor. Your doctor may suggest a skin test or a blood test to determine if you have an allergy.

  • The most common allergies include hay fever, asthma, conjunctivitis, hives, eczema, dermatitis and sinusitis.
  • Food allergies usually affect young children but they are frequently outgrown.
  • Bees, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets and fire ants can cause insect sting allergies.
  • Some people have allergies to drugs like penicillin. If you do, make sure providers are aware of this before treating you. 

Depending on the severity, your doctor may suggest an over-the-counter antihistamine like Claritin, Allegra, or Zyrtec or possibly a nasal spray such as Nasacort or Flonase. If the allergy is more severe, your doctor may prescribe a prescription antihistamine or prescription nasal spray which would be covered under your Prescription Benefit.

The most severe allergic reaction that can progress into seizures, cardiac arrhythmia, shock and respiratory distress is called anaphylaxis. It can result in death. Food, latex, insect sting and drug allergies can all result in anaphylaxis.

It’s important to talk with your doctor about how to identify the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis. To treat anaphylaxis, your doctor may prescribe auto-injectors such as EpiPen® or EpiPen Jr® which are covered under your Prescription Benefit.

Although the price and copays of auto-injectors has increased significantly in the past several years, you can obtain a My Epipen Savings Card® at which allows you to get an EpiPen Auto-Injector at significant cost savings. For 2017, qualified members can receive savings of up to a total of six (6) Epi-Pen 2-Pak® cartons.