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Three tips for allergy sufferers at the State Fair

There's nothing like the Minnesota State Fair. Unfortunately along with all the goodness-on-a-stick are dreaded allergens, especially from the animal barns. If you or your children suffer from allergies, the animal exhibits are often the first to be nixed from the sightseeing list. However, the barns are a fun place to visit and provide a wonderful opportunity for kids to learn about animals. With a few simple tips, you and your family can safely visit the animal barns, too!

Understand allergy triggers. The majority of allergens come from animal dander, but straw, hay and animal food have a lot irritants, too. It could be the bedding and feed, rather than the animal itself, that triggers a reaction. Fine dust particles and odors can also cause allergy symptoms. Knowing the root cause of your allergy can help you avoid a reaction. If you know that you have a strong allergic reaction to hay, aim your visit to the pig pens that have less hay than the lamb exhibit.

Precaution is key. There isn't much you can do to treat allergies after the fact, which makes prevention so important. To help prevent an allergic reaction, take antihistamines at least one hour before your visit. If you or your family member has asthma, be sure to bring a bronchodilator inhaler. If you take allergy medicine on a regular schedule, be sure not to skip your dose on the day you visit the fair.

Don't touch! But if you do, wash your hands. Touching the animals is a big no-no if you are known to be allergic to them. Animal dander is heavily concentrated in an animal's saliva and coat, and transferring allergens is easy if you don't wash your hands immediately after touching an animal. Also, it's smart to not bring food in; this will eliminate any possibility of accidently ingesting an allergen. After your visit to the barns, wash your hands thoroughly. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer. As always, if you have trouble breathing or swallowing, seek medical help right away.

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