Anaphylaxis is also known as an allergic reaction. At times, this allergic reaction, if left untreated, can be fatal.
What causes anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis may be caused by food allergies or insect bites. More common sources of allergens are:
- Insect bites or stings
- Foods - shellfish, nuts, fruits
- Medications - especially penicillin, sulpha medications, anaesthetics
- Latex, party balloons or medical gloves mainly in rubber gloves
What are the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis?
- Swelling in the throat and/or face.
- Difficulty swallowing
- Shortness of breath
- Itchy rash (hives, urticaria)
- Dizziness or loss of consciousness
What to do if anaphylaxis occurs?
- Dial 9-1-1 immediately and ask for paramedics
- Have the person lie down
- If the person has an EpiPen (adrenalin), help them administer it by injecting the EpiPen into their thigh.
- Place person on their side
- If person is unconscious inject EpiPen into thigh and monitor their airway, breathing and circulation
- Have someone meet the paramedics outside
What will the paramedics do when they arrive?
- They will administer oxygen through a mask to help you breathe
- Take your vital signs - your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate
- If the allergic reaction is severe, paramedics will give you medication (epinephrine)
- An intravenous may be put in place in case further medication is required
How to prevent an allergic reaction?
- Consult a physician if you suspect having an allergy
- Avoid exposure to any known allergens
- Wear a medic alert bracelet identifying what your allergies are
- If you have severe allergies always carry an EpiPen. An EpiPen can save your life. Make sure that family members, teachers, coaches and friends are trained in its use.