Anaphylaxis is a potentially fatal severe allergic reaction
Some allergies can lead to a severe allergic reaction - known as anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening. Symptoms can occur quickly or within hours following contact with an allergen. Prompt treatment can save your life. If you have an adrenaline auto-injector - use it immediately.
Common causes of anaphylaxis are wasp and bee stings as well as food, such as peanuts, nuts, sesame seed, fish and shellfish, dairy products and egg. Other causes include latex, penicillin and some other medications.
For some, fatigue or exercise may cause anaphylaxis - alone or in combination with other triggers like food or medication. Cold can also be a cause. In rare cases a reaction can occur without apparent cause.
- Itching, especially under the feet, in the hands or on the head
- A stinging feeling in the mouth
- Swelling in the mouth, throat, lips or eyes
- Itching, redness or nettle-rash anywhere on the body
- Dizziness, anxiety, cold sweating
- Abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting
- Shortness of breath or asthma symptoms
- Sudden fatigue, decreased blood pressure or fainting
- Disorientation or loss of consciousness
- You find it hard to breath
- Your mouth and throat swell
- You feel sudden fatigue or dizziness
- You experience a steady worsening of symptoms
If you experience these critical symptoms, inject adrenaline immediately. Call 999, ask for an ambulance stating “anaphylaxis”.
Avoiding the allergens to which you are sensitive is the best way to prevent allergic reactions or anaphylaxis.
Adrenaline is first line treatment for anaphylaxis. If you have an adrenaline auto-injector - use it immediately.
How adrenaline works
Anaphylaxis is caused by the sudden release of substances from cells into blood and tissues. These substances, primarily histamine, have an effect on blood vessels and cause swelling in the mouth and throat. Blood pressure falls and abdominal pain can occur. Dizziness, fainting and shock may follow.
Adrenaline rapidly constricts blood vessels and relaxes smooth muscles in the lungs. This helps breathing, stimulates the heart and prevents continued swelling of the face and lips.
Who is at risk of
A person who has previously experienced anaphylaxis - irrespective of cause - is at risk in the future. If you have experienced an anaphylactic reaction - even if it was a mild one - you should contact your doctor.
If the reaction was caused by peanuts, shellfish or fish, it should not be ignored, even if mild. This is especially important if the reaction was caused by peanuts. This is also the case for certain drugs, insect stings or latex. Your doctor will give you essential information and prescribe suitable medication.
Make sure you understand your doctor’s instructions. If you have an Emerade adrenaline auto-injector, read the instructions carefully. Online you will find a instruction video and you can order training device.
Tell your friends, colleagues and teachers that you are at risk of anaphylaxis and show them how to use your adrenaline auto-injector. Explain what to do in an emergency and that they should call an ambulance.
Always carry your Emerade with you.
When you get
- Do not underestimate the severity of an allergic reaction. Use your adrenaline auto-injector according to your doctor´s instructions. If in doubt, use your adrenaline auto-injector - it can save your life. Then lay down with your legs slightly elevated.
- Call 999 and say “anaphylaxis.” State your name, location and telephone number.
- If possible, someone should wait outside to show the ambulance crew where you are. Unlock your front door.
- Let ambulance personnel or the doctor know what drugs you have taken and tell them about your recent activities.
- If you have been prescribed antihistamine or steroid tablets, they will not have the same immediate effect that adrenaline has to counter anaphylaxis.
- If you have been prescribed an asthma reliever inhaler (usually blue), this may help if you experience symptoms.
- If your condition has not improved or deteriorates after 5 – 15 minutes and the ambulance has not yet arrived, inject a second dose of adrenaline.