Understanding Anaphylaxis: Diagnosis and TreatmentTweet
What is anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is the most severe allergic reaction known to humans. By understanding the diagnosis and treatment of anaphylaxis you can save lives in potentially life threatening cases.
Causes of the reaction?
Anaphylaxis has many triggers depending on individual responses to food, medication and other causes. Common causes of a reaction are through food allergens like peanuts, other nuts, milk, egg, wheat, soybean, sesame, shellfish and fish. Some other triggers include latex, insect bites, anaesthesia and medications.
Symptoms of a mild to moderate allergic reaction (may or may not lead to anaphylaxis)
- Tingling mouth
- Swelling (lips, face, eyes)
- Vomiting or abdominal pain (indicates severe allergic reaction to insects)
Anaphylaxis symptoms (sever life threatening reaction)
You will need to watch for any of the following:
- Swelling of tongue
- Difficult or noisy breathing
- Wheezing or persistent cough
- Difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice
- Persistent dizziness or collapsing)
- Pale (young children may become floppy)
ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis can help you recognise anaphylaxis signs and symptoms.
How can I prevent anaphylaxis?
You will need to completely avoid known allergens to prevent an anaphylactic reaction. By avoiding triggers you minimise the risk. Asthma can greatly increase the risk of it being a life threatening reaction and further care should be taken with asthmatic patients. Adults need to take responsibility for younger persons affective by anaphylaxis – too often reactions in this age group are found to be preventable.
How do I treat it?
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. It requires immediate treatment.
According to ASCIA (Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy) the following action should be taken in the event of an anaphylactic reaction:
- Lay person flat. Allow them to sit if having difficulty breathing (do not let them stand)
- Give adrenaline autoinjector if available (instructions are included in the ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis – stored with the adrenaline autoinjector)
- Call an ambulance on Triple Zero (000)
- Contact the parent, guardian or emergency contact
- Further adrenalin doses may be given if there is no response after 5 minutes.
If in doubt give the adrenaline autoinjector. It must be used promptly. Delaying or withholding of adrenaline can result in deterioration and death.
The information provided in this article should not replace medical advice. Seek medical attention immediately if you believe someone is having an anaphylactic reaction. .