What to do in case of a severe allergic reaction
Thursday 17th April
It’s very important to underline that allergic reactions can be mild, moderate or severe but all must be monitored carefully.
Some of the most common allergy symptoms are:
- runny nose
- itchy eyes
- itchy skin rashes (dermatitis)
These can precede a severe allergic reaction and should be monitored.
In some cases, a severe allergic reaction can be life-threatening. This is known as Anaphylaxis, which is a medical emergency and needs prompt treatment.
Anaphylaxis normally occurs when someone with a severe allergy is exposed to the substance that they are allergic to.
What is Anaphylaxis?
The NHS Choices website describes Anaphylaxis as a, “severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can develop rapidly.”
It is sometimes called an ‘anaphylactic shock’ and signs include:
- breathing difficulties
- feeling lightheaded or faint
- changes to your skin, such as itchy skin or a raised, red skin rash
- swelling of certain body parts, particularly the face
What should you do if you suspect you or someone you know is experiencing Anaphylaxis or an anaphylactic shock?
This situation should always be treated as a medical emergency. Call ‘999’ immediately to request an ambulance.
After calling ‘999’, NHS advice is as follows:
“If available, an injection of a medicine called adrenaline should be given if someone is having breathing difficulties, feeling faint, or has lost consciousness due to suspected anaphylaxis.
“Some people with a previous history of anaphylaxis will have an auto-injector of adrenaline. This should be injected into their thigh muscle and held in place for 10 seconds. Instructions for how to use these auto-injectors can be found on the side of each device.
“If the person is conscious, you should place them in a position where they are comfortable and able to breathe easily until the ambulance arrives. If they are feeling faint, they should be laid flat with their legs elevated, if possible.
“If the person is unconscious, you should place them in the recovery position (on their side, supported by one leg and one arm, with the head tilted back and the chin lifted).
“If the person's breathing or heart stops, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should be performed.
“Further treatment and observation will be carried out in hospital.
Allergy UK also provides a step-by-step guide to First Aid for Anaphylaxis.
Reading carefully the information in these sources can prove a major difference in the event of a severe allergic reaction.