Anaphylaxis 101: Familiarize Yourself with the Symptoms

**If you believe you are experiencing an anaphylactic reaction, please call 911 and seek medical treatment immediately.  Effective treatment for life-threatening anaphylactic reactions are time sensitive and can sometimes result in a second, delayed reaction so it’s important to go to the hospital even if your symptoms subside.**

Anaphylaxis is a severe and serious reaction that can occur when an allergic person is exposed to their allergen.  The first line of defense against an anaphylactic reaction is a shot of adrenaline in the form of epinephrine (EpiPen, Auvi-Q or other auto-injector).

Because time is of the essence in the case of a severe allergic reaction, it’s important to brush up on the symptoms of anaphylaxis and react at the first symptom.  Anaphylaxis can take one or several of the below forms:

  • swollen lips, tongue, face
  • trouble breathing
  • wheezing
  • hives
  • nausea and/or vomiting
  • hoarse voice
  • tightness of the throat
  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness and/or fainting
  • low heart rate
  • rapid heartbeat
  • cardiac arrest

What should you do in the event of anaphylaxis?

1.  Locate and use your emergency medication, an epinephrine autoinjector (such as EpiPen, Auvi-Q, etc).

2.  Dial 911 immediately.  And get to an emergency medical center right away.

If you can avoid it, do not try to drive to the hospital yourself.  Often a second shot of epinephrine is needed and EMTs have many emergency treatments available in their ambulances to make the patient more comfortable.

If you are not the parent/relative of the person experiencing anaphylaxis, follow steps 1 and 2 before contacting family/friends.  I always tell my babysitters to administer epinephrine, call 911 and THEN call me in quick, but thorough succession.

Even if your symptoms subside after self-treating with epinephrine, you will need to get to an emergency medical facility to get a thorough check of your health.  In rare cases, a secondary reaction can occur usually within 12 hours after the initial anaphylaxis.

Again, the best way to stay safe is easy with our three As:

1.  AVOID:  Avoid your allergen.  Don’t eat, even a little, anything you may be allergic to.

2.  AUTO-INJECTORS: Always carry your Emergency Medication Pack which includes your epinephrine autoinjectors.

3.  ASK:  Ask lots of questions.  If the ingredients to something aren’t apparent, ask waitstaff, grocers, manufacturers, bakers, parents, etc.  Don’t ever cross your fingers and hope something is safe!

The helpful infographic below, from Healthline, explains the effects of anaphylaxis on the body further.

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