Anaphylaxis or Anaphylactic Shock is a severe allergic reaction. It is caused when the immune system has an overreaction to an allergen.
An allergen is a trigger and might include foods, such as dairy products, nuts or seafood, medication, latex or insect stings.
Almost anything can be an allergen. A reaction usually happens on the second or subsequent exposures to an allergen.
The reaction will often happen very quickly, within a few minutes of exposure to the allergen, but sometimes may take several hours.
In severe cases, there is a sudden drop in blood pressure and narrowing of the airways, which will lead to difficult and wheezy breathing. This makes the reaction potentially life threatening.
Possible Signs and Symptoms:
- Itchy flushed skin
- Nettle like rash or hives
- Swelling of the mouth & throat
- Difficulty in swallowing or speaking
- Severe asthma
- Abdominal pain, feeling or being sick
- Feeling faint & weak (drop in blood pressure)
- Collapse and unconsciousness
- Remove the trigger if possible
- Dial 999 for an ambulance
- Reassure the casualty
- If the casualty is not having breathing difficulties, lie them down and raise their legs
- If the casualty is having difficulty breathing, keep them sat upright
- If the casualty stops responding, use your emergency plan
- The casualty may carry an adrenaline injection to be administered in the case of anaphylaxis.
- Usually the casualty will be able to inject themselves but if they are having difficulty you can help them to use it.
- The different brands of auto-injector have slightly different instructions, but they are always clearly indicated on device.
- Once the adrenaline is injected, they will usually recover very quickly.
- If there has been no improvement within five to fifteen minutes, a second injection may be needed. Seek guidance from ambulance control if this is the case.
Learn more about Anaphylaxis on this video from Allergy UK