iPhone Life Magazine

7 Best Allergy Management Apps

Life should be easy, not sneezy!

- BY LEANNE HAYS

A llergic reactions can range from mild yet annoying to severe and potentiall­y deadly, with symptoms running the gamut from sneezing, a runny nose, and itchy eyes to anaphylact­ic shock and death. According to the nonprofit Food Allergy Research & Education, one in ten adults and one in thirteen children have a food allergy, and 200,000 people per year in the US alone end up in the emergency room due to allergic reactions to food. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology reports that between 10 and 30 percent of the population worldwide experience­s hay fever. As well, up to 10 percent of the global population suffers from adverse drug reactions, which cause up to 20 percent of anaphylaxi­s-related fatalities per year.

Avoiding allergens, taking preventive medication, and alerting others to allergic conditions are three ways that people with allergies can preserve their health and be prepared in the event of exposure. Luckily, app developers are here to help. Here are seven apps to help you avoid and manage your allergies, so you can spend less time sneezing and more time enjoying your day.

Air Quality: Plan Ahead & Avoid Seasonal Allergies

Those of us with seasonal allergies know that taking medication at the right time can make or break a day. The free My Pollen Forecast app helps you know what to expect from your environmen­t, so you can take precaution­s. You'll see the current and next day's pollen type and count, as well as temperatur­e, wind speed, and humidity,

so you'll know whether or not to pop a daytime or nighttime antihistam­ine, or both! There's even a diary to track your symptoms: just enter how you feel day to day, along with the types of pollen present. You'll soon get a picture of your allergy triggers, which will help you plan for the future.

We all need to be mindful of air pollution, especially those of us with asthma and other lung diseases. Plume Labs: Air Quality App (free) helps users avoid damaging pollution levels with a current conditions map and report, 72-hour air quality forecast, and smart notificati­ons that include alerts and tips. This is especially important for folks in urban areas, but even folks in the country can experience poor air quality when it's time to spray or harvest crops.

The free WebMD Allergy app is one of the most comprehens­ive offerings I've found. It offers an allergy map and warnings for mold, dust, trees, grass, and ragweed. There's also a tracker for listing symptoms and treatments and a library of allergy facts and tips for reducing exposure. There's an annoying number of ads on the home page, but considerin­g that it's a free app, I can overlook it.

Food Allergies: Avoid Triggering Ingredient­s

The Gluten Free Scanner app (free) has been a great help to my sister and one of my daughters, who are both gluten intolerant.

It's really easy to use! Just open the app and scan a bar code to see if the product contains gluten. You'll get an instant answer without having to read the ingredient­s list. The full version ($3.99) includes over 500,000 products, 80,000 of them gluten-free, and a searchable list of safe and unsafe ingredient­s.

While many apps cater to those who already know their dietary triggers, mySymptoms Food Diary ($3.99) helps users discover which substances are causing their allergies. Just fill out a diary each day with the food, drinks, medication­s, and supplement­s you've consumed, then add info about your sleep, energy levels, bowel health, exercise, mood, and other symptoms. Over time, this data helps the app use statistica­l methods to identify patterns between your symptoms and diet and pinpoint possible allergens. The app developer emphasizes that these conclusion­s aren't a medical diagnosis and encourages users to print a PDF report of their diary to share with their doctor.

Eating out can be a complete minefield for people with food allergies. Will there be allergen-free choices? How can I be sure? The AllergyEat­s app (free) helps users find restaurant­s in their area with safe menu items for various sensitivit­ies. One downside I've noticed is that there are restaurant­s listed that closed more than a year ago; users will need to call ahead and verify that locations are still open.

Emergency Help

When worst comes to worst, and you or a loved one needs immediate medical attention, EMNet findERnow (free) is here to help! If you set up the app to track your location while in use, it will immediatel­y bring up the closest emergency room on a map and a list of nearby hospitals. If you need to find an ER in a different place, type the address into the search field. You can even tap Call 911 if you need an ambulance.

Tip! Use the Emergency Medical Card on Your iPhone Lock Screen

Your iPhone can help first responders know your medical issues at a glance, including any drugs you're allergic to. To set up an Emergency Medical Card on your iPhone:

• Open the Health app.

• Tap your profile icon at the top right of the screen.

• Tap Medical ID.

• Tap Edit.

• Enter any informatio­n that first responders would need, including seasonal, food, and drug allergies, and whether you have pills, an inhaler, an EpiPen, or any other prescripti­on medication for your allergies. You can also add emergency contacts at the bottom of the page.

• Toggle on Show When Locked and Share During Emergency Call.

• Tap Done when you're finished.

How Are You Managing Your Allergies?

I hope these app suggestion­s will help you have more allergy-free days. Let me know which of the apps worked best for you and if you have any others you'd like to suggest to our readers by emailing me at leanne@iphonelife.com. Leanne Hays is an SEO content strategist at iPhone Life. She loves reading and blogging, and is never without a book in her backpack or an audiobook on her phone. Short-term goals include finishing painting her house and starting an aquaponics farm, long-term goals include a bike tour of Italy and writing a novel.

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