Allergy Kit: Your personal allergy-first-aid kit
What you should include in your allergy first aid kit from medications to practical add-ons. This post reviews what you need to always have on you when you live with food allergies.
An allergy kit should be your third arm!
It is always heartbreaking to read stories about a fatal allergic reaction that could have been avoided if the person had their adrenaline-pen.
One way to ensure you always have your medication on you is an allergy kit.
With an allergy kit, allergy folks will remember the necessary medication they should have on them at all times.
An allergy kit anecdote from Kortney
I started carrying an adrenaline pen with me at the age of twelve, after my second visit to the hospital for an allergic reaction to peanuts.
That hospital visit is where my peanut allergy turned from something that would make me itchy and vomit to something that impacted my throat and lungs – in other words, anaphylaxis.
Ever since that day I always carry my allergy kit (including 2 adrenaline-pens) with me, it has become my safety blanket.
My kit has lovingly been nicknamed ‘my life’ because it is my lifeline in the event of an anaphylactic reaction. When leaving the house my parents would ask me if I had my life with me and it has stuck with me for twenty years!
Things I include in my allergy kit
- 2 Adrenaline pens
- 1 Full bottle of liquid Benadryl (every time I use it I replace it with a new one with an unbroken seal, which also makes it easier for travelling)
- 1 Inhaler
- 2 Packs of antihistamine pills
- 1 Pack of Benadryl pills
- Multiple copies of my allergy cards (in all languages that apply to you)
- Sanitizer wipes (may not always be in the kit, but I always have them in my purse.)
- An emergency protocol, which details what to do in the case of a reaction with your emergency contact names and phone numbers.
It is ideal to keep the contents in a small bag that can be easily moved from purse or to suitcase, fanny pack to backpack. For instance, many folks use insulated bags that are marked ‘contains medications’ or something similar.
If temperature changes are not an issue, a see-through mesh bag is more durable than a plastic bag and since it is see-through it comes in handy when traveling so the medication is easily identified.
Building your first aid kit
The contents of your kit may vary. The best advice is to ask your doctor about what you should carry, depending on your allergy protocol and if you have any other medical conditions such as asthma.
In addition, always make sure to check every few weeks that none of your meds have expired.
Your allergy kit should be your third arm. Above, all, more important than leaving the house without your cell phone or keys is to never leave home without your allergy kit!
Let your friends, family, and colleagues know about your allergy first aid kit and where you keep it and give them permission to retrieve it in a case of emergency.
Anything missing? Share in the comments below.
P.S. Do you wear a medical alert bracelet? Check out this post about why you should wear a medical ID for food allergies
Kortney is your typical atopic triad! She manages asthma, eczema, environmental and food allergies. Kortney is a co-creator of the online community Allergy Travels and co-host of The Itch Podcast. She wants to spread joy in a community that can easily see the hard side of life with atopic disease and believes that you can have a full life with food allergies, it may just be lived a little differently!
My cardiologist, who also works in the ER, suggested two aditional medications for my kit ( newly diagnosed anaphylactic shrimp reactions 12/18/15) Pepcid, 2-20mg tablets and 60 mg of PO steroid (prednisone). I’m curious if anyone else travels with these meds? I have my two epipens, as well as my dissolvable Benadryl. Best wishes for a reaction free 2016!
Thank you for your comment. 🙂 I always love hearing about what others with allergies do. I never thought of carrying a Pepcid and steroid. It makes a lot of sense since that is what I received at the ER after an anaphylactic reaction to sesame. They were afraid I was going to get severe ulcers. I was also given steroids to take for 10 days after. I will definitely be talking to my doctor about it.
We don’t carry prednisone on a regular basis, but do when we go on vacation. The idea, as I understand it, is that prednisone is not an emergency med and while at home we’d go to the hospital. But out and about, we might have cause to use it someplace where we’d have trouble getting it right away.
Wendy, I also carry pepcid with me as it is a antihistamine on the other side of the spectrum from benadryl according to one of my doctors. I do not carry prednisone yet. I am hoping not too. But my allergies are increasing with age (that scares me) Being prepared is half the battle.
Kortney, can you administer your own EpiPen when you’re having a reaction?my son is 10 and we’re struggling with striking a balance as we plan ahead to high school (7th grade here), taking buses alone etc.
I am fortunate enough to have never used my EpiPen (even though there are two times I should have). I found practicing using the EpiPen really helpful in preparing to do it on my own if the occasion arises. What I learnt in practicing is 10 seconds is longer than I realised. You can practice with old EpiPens on an orange.
I have also done a lot of”mental prep” because I can get really panicked when I have a reaction and know that I need to stay calm. When I do have a reaction I always remind myself to breathe, stay calm, and go over what is happening with my body – learning all the signs of anaphylaxis is also really important.
Ever since I started carrying an EpiPen (I was a tween) I was prepared to administer it myself. I hope that this helps.
Yes you can administer your own. Both My kids were diagnosed with their food allergies at age 1. They each have their own medicine bag that we carried for them whenever we left the house. the kits include 2 epipens, liquid Benadryl, asthma rescue inhaler, allergy eye drops, medic alert card for ID. (They also wear a bracelet) I also keep a copy of their food allergy plan and asthma action plan from school. My kids have been carrying their own medicine bags themselves since I started leaving them at sports or friends houses. They have been taught how to use everything in the bag and practice with expired Epipens so they were comfortable with it. Their closest friends also have practiced and know what to do Incase of emergency. As for middle school and high school they keep their bags with them at all times throughout the day. Although the nurse has he meds also. If they need medicine on the bus or after school during sports or otherwise activities they will have it readily available. (We are currently in 8th and 12th grade) we are now discusiinhg the changes and challenges college will be for our senior. He will be 10 hours away from home and we taught him as much as we can.
This is a great idea. I just found out I have a severe reaction to sulphites. I’m not sure how I’d list all those foods on my card, as there’s a LOT of them & I’m not sure the chef would get it. Ideas?
I would include the top allergens that you would most likely come across in restaurants on the front side of the card and then all of the others on the back of the card. Here is an example of mine: https://thezestfull.com/allergy-card/. I put more specific information on the back side of the card. Also, get a postcard sized card so that it is easier to fit all your allergens and the font doesn’t have to be tiny.
I also have a lot of allergens on my card and it can be really intimidating for waiters. So when you do present your card make sure to let them know that these are sulphite containing foods.
I hope this helps!
You might also try carrying organic essential oils like peppermint and lavender. I have severe reactions to fragrance and chemicals, so having these on hand is a real benefit. Sites like doterra have the mini zip pouches with 8 little vials you can fill with essential oils. They even have stickers you can put on them and a caribeaner so you can clip it to anything. I carry one in my purse and my emergency go bag.
So I’m recently finding out that I’m not severely disabled with chronic debilitating asthma, I actually just have a ton of food allergies and intolerances. I’m trying to create a card and emergency kit to take with me but am a little confused at the two separate pill types. You have Benadryl and an antihistamine but I though Benadryl was an antihistamine. Is it a different type, like Zyrtec, for a different purpose?
Great question. All the different pills I have, I use for different things. So I only use the liquid Benedryl if I am having an allergic reaction to food – which thank goodness is very rare and I will generally have to replace it when it’s expired because it seldomly gets used. The other pills are benedryl pills and a Canadian equivalent to Zyrtec. I have a lot of environmental allergies and use the Zyrtec for those instances – I have extra strength and the regular kind on me.I hope that helps. I always like to have lots of options on me – just a personal preference. I do know people who also carry prednisone on them – but you should talk to your doctor about that.
Let me know if you have any other questions.