Why an Allergy Bracelet is critical in emergencies

Story by Michelle Wexler

Diamond Medical Bracelet

Medical ID bracelets tell first responders, to make swift decisions to prevent allergic reactions from becoming life threatening.
Having an epi-pen and having it listed on your ID tag may just save your life.
See Beginners Guide Overview

Include All Critical Information: 
Tag Example:
ICE: 700-777-7777
For more help: ID Abbreviations.

No diagnoses and bad detail can be deadly. So why put your life on the line in a medical emergency by not including life-threatening drug interactions, cardiovasculars disease or diabetes?
Don't put first responders in the dark because there are many causes for severe allergic reactions—informing emergency responders of specific allergens is critical.
Allergy to processed foods makes it highly recommended to have a medical ID (NIAID, 2016).
Allergies to emergency drugs can also pose a threat. Paramedics need to know what meds you're taking.
Symptoms to look for are: swelling of the lips, tongue, face, or throat, wheezing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath. (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2014) It's imperative to treat for the correct allergen .
Gambling on wallet cards or phones can lead to trouble in accidents because they can be lost, overlooked and phones can be broken. 
Relying only on phone numbers for your medical issues is a problem because paramedics are too busy saving your life, with no time for conversations.

Common Allergic Triggers

Food: In the United States, 5 percent of children and 4 percent of adults possess food allergies and more people are being diagnosed each year. By 2007, the number of people diagnosed per year with a food allergy had risen 18% from what it was ten years prior, and that percentage is expected to keep rising. The most common food allergy in the country is to peanuts, followed by tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, eggs, and milk otherwise known as “the big eight”.

Medication: The last thing that one expects to happen in an emergency is to get worse with treatment—which is precisely what happens to individuals with certain medication allergies. An individual can become allergic to a drug if they are exposed just once and the body becomes sensitive to it. This starts the creation of antibodies that will attack the body when it is exposed to the drug again in the future. Researchers have found that even trace amounts of drugs (e.g. antibiotics) in the food supply are enough to trigger the initial negative immune reaction, subsequently causing antibodies to form. (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2014).

An Allergy Bracelet can save your life when every second counts

The fastest way to warn about allergies is to have a medical bracelet firmly attached.
Wrist First! Paramedics always look to your wrist first for an ID tag and information.

“I received my bracelet on Saturday. It is beautiful and fits perfect! Thank you for the incredible customer service!”  

Cindy M-Long Beach CA


Types of Allergies

Tell first responders about your allergies so they know what to do and what not to do:

1. Nut Allergies

Peanuts are the most common allergy-causing foods in the United States, and can be found in a variety of expected and unexpected items. They can cause respiratory symptoms, watery or swollen eyes, hives, or swelling.
Peanuts aren't actually a true nut, they're a legume (in the same family as peas and lentils). But the proteins in peanuts are similar in structure to those in tree nuts. For this reason, people who are allergic to peanuts can also be allergic to tree nuts, such as almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, pecans, and cashews. 
Avoid all nuts: People who are diagnosed with a specific tree nut allergy may be able to tolerate other tree nuts, but allergists usually advise these patients to avoid all nuts. Tree nuts are often used as garnishes in salads, as an ingredient in Asian dishes, and as an ice cream topping. They may also be found in baking mixes, breading, sauces, desserts and baked goods.
Tree nuts are among the eight most common food allergens affecting adults and children, and are specifically mentioned in the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) of 2004. This means that the presence of these items must be highlighted, in clear language, on ingredient lists. 
Some alcoholic beverages may contain nuts or nut flavoring added in the distillation process. Most alcoholic beverages aren’t covered by the FALCPA requirements; if “natural flavors” or “botanicals” are cited as an ingredient, you may need to call the manufacturer to determine whether that indicates the presence of nuts or nut flavoring.
Tree nut oils, which may contain nut protein, can be found in lotions, hair care products and soaps; those allergic to tree nuts should avoid using these products.
Nut allergies in children appears to be growing, according to a 2010 study that compared data from telephone surveys of 5,300 U.S. households in 1997, 2002 and 2008. In the 2008 survey, 2.1 percent of respondents reported having a child with an allergy to peanuts, tree nuts or both. In the 2002 survey, 1.2 percent of subjects said they had a child with one or both of these allergies; five years earlier, in 1997, only 0.6 percent of respondents reported having a child with one or both of these allergies. Allergies to tree nuts and peanuts are among the most common causes of anaphylaxis in the United States. 

2. Antibiotic Allergies

Many drugs can cause adverse side effects such as penicillin, sulfa, mycins, sporins, cyclines and other medicines can trigger allergic reactions.
Trace amounts of a drug in the food supply, such as an antibiotic in meat products, may be sufficient for the immune system to create an antibody—and any new exposures can lead to an allergic reaction.
Symptoms of a Drug Allergy can range from mild to life-threatening. Even in people who aren't allergic, many drugs can cause intolerance and irritation, such as an upset stomach. But during an allergic reaction, the release of histamine can cause symptoms like hives, skin rash, itchy skin or eyes, congestion, and swelling in the mouth and throat.
Severe reactions called anaphylaxis,may include difficulty breathing, blueness of the skin, dizziness, fainting, anxiety, confusion, rapid pulse, nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal problems.
Most Common Drug Allergies: Historically, most people are allergic to penicillin and other similar antibiotics drugs.
Other drugs commonly found to cause allergic reactions include sulfa drugs, barbiturates, anticonvulsants, and insulin.
How to be prepared for a drug allergy? If you have a drug allergy, you should always inform your health care provider before undergoing any type of treatment, including dental care. It is also a good idea to wear a medical ID bracelet that identifies your drug allergy in case of an emergency.

3. Medication Allergies

Side effects are possible with all prescription and over the counter medications, but only about 5 to 10% of adverse reactions to drugs are allergy related. Whether allergic or not, reactions to medications can range from mild to life-threatening. It is important to take all medications exactly as your physician prescribes. Call your doctor if you have side effects that concern you, or you suspect a drug allergy has occurred. If your symptoms are severe, seek medical help immediately.
Sensitization, SJS, and TEN: The most common immune response to a drug is due to the expansion of T cells, a type of white blood cell that recognizes the drug as foreign. Most reactions occur within hours to two weeks after taking the medication and most people react to medications to which they have been exposed in the past. This process is called sensitization. However, rashes may develop up to six weeks after starting certain types of medications.
Blisters may be a sign of serious drug reactions called Stevens-Johnson Syndrome or Toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), where the surfaces of your eye, lips, mouth and genital region may be eroded. You should seek medical help immediately if you experience any of these. Many medications can cause severe delayed reactions including antibiotics, medications for epilepsy, depression and gout.
Not all drug reactions involve a specific immune reaction. If you take angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors for high blood pressure, you may develop a cough or facial and tongue swelling. In addition, some people are sensitive to aspirin, ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). One type of NSAID sensitivity may cause a stuffy nose, wheezing and difficulty breathing. This is most common in adults with asthma and in people with nasal polyps.
Other reactions to NSAIDs can result in hives or in rare instances, severe reactions can result in shock.
Non-allergic reactions are much more common than drug allergic reactions. These reactions are usually predictable based on the drugs involved. Symptoms of non-allergic drug reactions vary, depending on the type of medication. People being treated with chemotherapy often suffer from vomiting and hair loss. Certain antibiotics irritate the intestines, which can cause stomach cramps and diarrhea.

4. Opioid Allergies 

Opioid Allergy: True anaphylactic reactions to opioids are very rare. When patients say they are allergic to an opiod, it is much more likely that the patient has experienced GI upset or a pseudoallergy.
Flushing, itching, hives, and sweating, especially itching or flushing at the injection site only, suggests a pseudoallergy due to histamine release, a pharmacologic side effect of some opioids. Codeine, morphine, and meperidine are the opioids most commonly associated with pseudoallergy. Use of a more potent opioid is less likely to result in histamine release.
When a true allergy to opiate is determined, then an opioid in a different chemical class from the one to which the patient reacted may be used with close monitoring.
People that have been addicted to opioids and narcotics, and once free of the addiction, cannot receive any opioid medications during emergencies or they will become addicted again. For this reason they must warn emergency responders to not give opioid pain medications. That's why a medical bracelet is critical.
(Types of Allergies - Cont. to right or below)

What are Allergies?

When your immune system reacts to a foreign benign substance as if it were a harmful virus—that's an allergy!
Histamines are then released during this allergic reaction. These offending chemicals cause uncomfortable symptoms at best, and deadly consequences at worst. (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2014). 
To prevent reactions, the best way is to test for any possible allergies if you suspect something is not right. 
The most severe allergic reaction is anaphylaxis. It can occur rapidly and often initiates life-threatening conditions which involve many major body systems. To avoid this complication, emergency treatment will typically be administered on the spot.
Carry an epinephrine pen. You or someone else can administer the injection. This gives you a pre-measured dose of epinephrine that can reverse anaphylaxis.
Stainless Steel Medical Bracelet

Types of Allergies (continued)

5. Insect Sting Allergies

About 2 million Americans (Cleveland Clinic, 2012) are allergic to venom of insect stings. Many risk life-threatening allergic reactions simply by being outdoors. United States has 90-100 deaths each year attributed to insect stings (CDC).
Insect Stings that often trigger allergies are bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, fire ants, spiders and scorpions. However, most people are not allergic to insect stings and may mistake a normal sting reaction for an allergic reaction. By knowing the difference, you can prevent unnecessary worry and a visit to the doctor.
A normal reaction will result in pain, swelling, and redness around the sting site.
A large local reaction will result in swelling that extends beyond the sting site. For example, a person stung on the ankle may have swelling of the entire leg. While it often looks alarming, it is generally no more serious than a normal reaction. Large local reactions peak at approximately 48 hours and then gradually resolve over 5 to 10 days. If sudden cardiovascular or respiratory symptoms develop, seek medical attention.

6. Food Allergies

Food allergy is an abnormal immune response to food. The signs and symptoms may range from mild to severe.  
Early exposure to potential allergens may be protective. Management primarily involves avoiding the food in question and having a plan if exposure occurs. This plan may include giving adrenaline (epinephrine) and wearing medical bracelets. The benefits of allergen immunotherapy for food allergies is unclear and thus not recommended as of 2015. Some types of food allergies among children resolve with age including that to milk, eggs, and soy; while others such as to nuts and shellfish typically do not.
About 4% to 8% of people have at least one food allergy in the developed world. They are more common in children than adults and appear to be increasing in frequency. Male children appear to be more commonly affected than females. Some allergies more commonly develop early in life while others typically develop in later life.
Sesame seed allergies are increasing quickly in America over the last 10 to 20 years. If you’re allergic to tree nuts, you could be allergic to sesame seeds. “Now clearly one of the six or seven most common food allergens” (Johns Hopkins).

7. Latex Allergies 

It's a reaction to certain proteins found in natural rubber latex, a product made from a milky fluid from rubber trees. 
Who's Affected? Other than health care workers, people at risk for developing latex allergies include those with a defect in their bone marrow cells. A deformed bladder or urinary tract. A history of multiple surgeries. A urinary catheter, which has a rubber tip. Allergy, asthma, or eczema. Food allergies to bananas, avocados, kiwis, or chestnuts. Rubber industry workers and condom users are also at risk for developing a latex allergy.
How do you get exposed to latex? Exposure through the skin occurs when latex gloves are worn. Through mucous membranes, such as the eyes, mouth, vagina, and rectum. Through inhalation; rubber gloves contain a powder that can be inhaled. Through the blood, as may occur when some medical devices containing rubber are used.
Three types of latex reactions:
1. Irritant contact dermatitis. The least threatening type of latex reaction, classified as a non-allergenic skin reaction. It usually occurs as a result of repeated exposure to chemicals in latex gloves and results in dryness, itching, burning, scaling, and lesions of the skin.
2. Allergic contact dermatitis. A delayed reaction to additives used in latex processing, which results in the same type of reactions as irritant contact dermatitis (dryness, itching, burning, scaling, and lesions of the skin). The reaction, though, is more severe, spreads to more parts of the body, and lasts longer. Symptoms can occur up to 4 days after exposure.
3. Immediate allergic reaction (latex hypersensitivity). The most serious reaction to latex. It can show up as rhinitis with hay fever-like symptoms, conjunctivitis (pink eye), cramps, hives, and severe itching. It is rare, but symptoms may progress to include rapid heartbeat, tremors, chest pain, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, anaphylactic shock, or potentially, death.

8. Iodine allergies

Everyone ingests iodine in their diet, and not just what’s found in iodized salt. Iodine is commonly found in the human body and allergic reactions to it are rare, but when reactions do happen, it can cause death.
Hypersensitivity to iodine may not make you allergic to it because iodine is not normally considered an allergen. That’s because iodine is an essential element for the body, and it aids production of thyroid hormones. A lack of iodine leads to the formation of a goiter, and can cause hypothyroidism.
On the rise are medical uses of iodine, especially in radiocontrast agents for improving X-ray and CT scans. More reactions have occurred in recent years which have caused deaths.
Exposure to iodine can cause reactions in hypersensitive individuals such as hives, rash and life-threatening anaphylaxis which requires immediate medical attention in the form of a shot of adrenaline.
Common symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, dizziness, heart palpitations, confusion, breathing problems, nausea and rapid pulse.
Reactive causes include some solutions and foods: Tincture of iodine may cause rashes in hypersensitive people. Radiocontrast contrast iodine given intravenously is known to be responsible for severe reactions including deaths. Foods containing iodine are fish, dairy, and soy.
Shellfish is not linked to iodine allergy as shown by research. Instead, parvalbumins proteins in fish and tropomyosins proteins in shellfish cause these allergies. However, since some rare cases have linked shellfish allergy to contrast dye reactions, it's better to be cautious.