The following information is for educational purposed only. If you think you or your child had an allergic reaction, it is important to see a doctor. Your doctor can refer you to an allergist who can confirm an allergy.
What is Anaphylaxis? Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure to something you're allergic to, such as a peanut or the venom from a bee sting. The flood of chemicals released by your immune system during anaphylaxis can cause you to go into shock; your blood pressure drops suddenly and your airways narrow, blocking normal breathing. Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include a rapid, weak pulse, a skin rash, and nausea and vomiting. Common triggers of anaphylaxis include certain foods, some medications, insect venom and latex. Anaphylaxis requires an immediate trip to the emergency department and an injection of epinephrine. If anaphylaxis isn't treated right away, it can lead to unconsciousness or even death. (Mayo Clinic 2013)
What are the symptoms of Anaphylaxis? An allergic reaction usually happens within minutes after being exposed to an allergen, but sometimes it can take place several hours after exposure. A reaction can involve any of these symptoms, and a person could have one or more of these symptoms regardless of the allergen: Skin: hives, swelling, itching, warmth, redness, rash Breathing: coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain/tightness, throat tightness, hoarse voice, nasal congestion or hay fever-like symptoms (runny itchy nose and watery eyes, sneezing), trouble swallowing Stomach: nausea, pain/cramps, vomiting, diarrhea Heart/Circulation: pale/blue colour, weak pulse, passing out, dizzy/lightheaded, shock Other: anxiety, feeling of “impending doom”, headache, uterine cramps, metallic taste, children will often say "My tounge feels fuzzy" or "My throat feels funny" or "It feels like my throat is closing". Some small child may become very quiet and withdrawn, because they don’t understand what is happening. The most dangerous symptoms of an allergic reaction are: Trouble breathing caused by restriction of the airways Low blood pressure causing dizziness, light-headedness, feeling faint or weak, or passing out. If untreated Anaphylaxis CAN LEAD TO DEATH
How is Anaphylaxis diagnosed? Patient History Your doctor or allergist may ask these questions: What happened when the reaction occurred (symptoms)? When did the reaction first start? How long did it last? What treatments were used? Do any other family members have allergies? Skin Prick Test This is the most common test used by allergists. Typically, a small drop of the allergen is placed on a person’s arm or back. The skin is then pricked with a special needle so the body can absorb the allergen. After about 15-20 minutes the skin is examined to see if there is any redness or swelling (a wheal). The result will be measured and recorded and then the allergist will determine if it is a positive reaction. Blood Tests for Allergies When a person is allergic to something, their immune system reacts by making antibodies called IgE (immunoglobulin E) specific to the allergen (to protect the person against the allergen). A blood sample is taken and then mixed with the allergen. Blood tests measure the level of IgE in the body. Oral Food Challenge Test This test should only be done in a medical facility under the supervision of an allergist. If a child seems to have outgrown their allergy, this test may be used. An allergist gives the child increasing amounts of the food in timed intervals. If it is tolerated without any reaction occurring, then the allergist will determine whether the child has outgrown the allergy.
How is Anaphylaxis treated? Always use your Epipen, antihistamines (Benadryl, Aerius) are NOT a treatment for Anaphylaxis.
The 5 Emergency Steps 1. Give the Epipen at the first signs of an allergic reaction. 2. Call 9-1-1 and tell them that someone is having an anaphylactic reaction. 3. If symptoms do not improve within 5 minutes give a second dose of Epipen. 4. Immediately go to the nearest hospital by ambulance if possible, even if symptoms are mild or have stopped. The reaction could get worse or come back. 5. Call emergency contact persons (e.g., parent, guardian, spouse).