Most people with known anaphylaxis allergies experience mild symptoms they manage easily. Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening, entire body allergic reaction that quickly results in an unnecessary death without immediate First Aid treatment.
Anaphylaxis occurs when the body releases a large dose of histamine that places the body into a state of shock. By giving adrenaline in the form of epinephrine, delivered via an adrenaline autoinjector Epi-Pen, and calling 000 for an ambulance, you could save the life of someone having an anaphylactic reaction.
FACE provides a range of nationally accredited First Aid courses that ensure you can identify and give the appropriate First Aid treatment for anaphylaxis or any other medical emergency requiring initial response First Aid.
What Causes Anaphylaxis?
Commonly known causes of anaphylaxis are food, insect bites, medications, and latex. However, other lesser-known and more obscure causes of anaphylaxis are specific to and can trigger an individual. Exposure to the allergen causes the body to have an adverse reaction called an allergic reaction. Once the immune system identifies the allergen, it floods the body with chemicals called modifiers-the predominant one being histamine.
Medical treatment is required as there is the potential for a second biphasic anaphylactic reaction to occur up to 12 hours post the initial exposure and anaphylactic episode.
FACE First Aid training will help you identify the problem, manage, administer the initial treatment, and watch for later anaphylactic reactions. At the end of our course, you will have an in-depth understanding to apply the appropriate First Aid treatment that prevents a fatality.
What Are The Common Symptoms Of Anaphylaxis
First-time anaphylactic reactions may only experience mild allergy symptoms, such as a rash, itchy skin, throat tickle, or a runny nose.
Symptoms can quickly progress to more dangerous medical issues, which include:
· Difficulty breathing
· Rapidly beating heart
· Cardiac arrest
· Feeling scared or anxious
· Swelling or hives on the skin
· Pain in the abdominal region
· Vomiting & nausea
· Throat tightness
· Dizziness or fainting
· Hoarse voice
· Low blood pressure
Experiencing a severe allergic reaction at any stage of your life increases your chances of having future reactions with less exposure to the allergen. Identifying specific triggers and understanding what causes your anaphylaxis will be determined by administering a specialist’s skin prick test.
Diagnosis Of An Allergic Reaction
Anyone with a history of allergies, or asthma, who has previously experienced an allergic reaction, has a higher risk of anaphylaxis occurring and leading to a fatality. Identifying what you are allergic to is the first step in managing anaphylaxis.
Your medical professional will refer you to the most appropriate specialist. Allergists will identify your triggers through blood tests, oral foods, and skin prick tests. The results of these tests will then let you know what triggers to avoid and coping strategies.
Some early indications that you may have allergies or sensitivities that require identification and a personalised treatment plan include:
· Past allergy symptoms and reactions are becoming more challenging to control.
· Recurring allergy symptoms
· The cause of your reactions has not been identified, and you need further testing.
· It is becoming harder to manage your triggers and reactions.
· Desensitisation or immunotherapy may be beneficial.
· You are uncertain if you have previously experienced anaphylaxis.
· Medications new to the market might be more effective in managing your allergy and reactions.
· Other medical treatments, herbal supplements, prescription, or recreational drugs may cause or complicate your allergy unintentionally without you knowing what ingredients have been used in the production process.
Anaphylactic Reaction Management And Treatment
If an anaphylactic reaction occurs, it should be treated urgently by injecting adrenaline, known as epinephrine. Epinephrine is only available with a prescription and has a one-year shelf life. Regular checking of your use-by dates is essential; the further past your use-by date, the less effective the solution may be when injected.
If you have known triggers that cause anaphylaxis, it is vital that you keep within reach or carry on your person an Epi-Pen or other autoinjector device and wear a medic alert pendant. More extreme allergic reactions may require a second dose of adrenaline, oxygen therapy, and, if fatal, CPR!
To help reduce the risk of anaphylaxis, follow your action plan or the action plan your specialist has provided specifically for you or the person you are treating.
A short, animated video on how to give an EpiPen® is available on the Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia website.
What Is The Most Common Trigger For Anaphylactic Reactions?
· Food: These include wheat, gluten, peanuts and walnuts, pecans and other tree nuts, eggs and dairy, fish, and shellfish. Anything the individual’s immune system does not respond well to eating, inhaling, touching, smelling, tasting, or swallowing.
Always read the food labels carefully to see if there are any allergenic ingredients. If you are eating out, ask how the food is prepared and what it contains. For children, teachers at their school should be aware of their condition and have epinephrine and a treatment plan on hand.
· Latex products: Latex is often found in adhesive tapes, condoms/dental dams, disposable gloves, tube hair bands, catheters, and syringes. Gloves made from latex are often worn in the safe food production industry, and latex dust can be transferred onto food unintentionally.
· Medications– Aspirin, penicillin, anti-inflammatory drugs like anaesthesia, ibuprofen, herbal supplements, and non-steroidal drugs.
Ask your medical specialists about the latest developments in medications for your condition; keep track of them so you know when new ones become available in the marketplace that might work better than your current medications. Volunteer yourself and attend desensitisation therapy sessions so small doses of the allergen can be gradually increased over time until an appropriate level of de-sensitivity has been reached.
· Insect stings: Avoid bright colours or sweet smells (like perfumes). Avoid drinking directly from soft drink cans that insects may have crawled into while you were not looking. Search for ant mounds when taking a picnic outside or sitting outdoors. Stay away from blooming plants with heavy scents that are heavily laden with pollen- but enjoy those flowers in your garden using caution.
Always notify doctors/ teachers of any allergies beforehand to take precautions. There is no way to prevent what causes an allergic reaction, but it is crucial that you remain safe by avoiding things that may trigger your symptoms.
Steps To Take After An Allergic Emergency
After an allergic emergency resulting in anaphylaxis, it is critical to call 000!
Administering epinephrine is only one step in the First Aid process. Try to identify, and remove, the allergen, or cause of the reaction, if possible, to help the responding medical staff provide more efficient and targeted follow-up treatment.
Always follow up on an anaphylactic emergency with a trip to your specialist. Keep on top of your treatment plan as changes and adjustments might be required.
Never leave home without your epinephrine autoinjector and medic alert pendant!
Alert your co-workers and suggest they undertake a First Aid training course to update their skills or become accredited for the first time.
If you want to manage an anaphylactic reaction or any emergency correctly, please take the time to look at our online calendars and find the course and location that best suits you.
Do Antihistamines Help Anaphylaxis
The short answer is no; antihistamines are recommended to treat mild and moderate allergic reactions, including allergic rhinitis, better known as hay fever. They have no role in treating or preventing respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms of anaphylaxis that result in death.
Living With Anaphylaxis
If you have recently discovered you or someone you know is living with anaphylaxis, Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia is a trusted website with information to help you live a normal life and provide you with the essential tools and an anaphylaxis plan for managing your anaphylaxis.
FACE Blog Page
If you found this article helpful and inspiring check out our FACE Blog page for a range of First Aid and Medically related topics of interest to broaden your First Aid knowledge. Consider booking a place on our next available course and gaining your nationally recognised and accredited First Aid certification.