Signs of Anaphylaxis- a serious allergic reaction
As allergic reactions are becoming more common in the U.S., it is important to understand the difference between a mild allergic reaction and anaphylaxis- a potentially deadly emergency! Allergies are often caused by our response to such things as bee stings, exposure to tree nuts, latex, shellfish or other less known causes.
What are the signs of Anaphylaxis? First, let’s discuss what anaphylaxis is. It is a severe bodily reaction affecting several body systems including cardiac, neurological, and respiratory to name a few. Upon exposure, it causes dilation and leaking of blood vessels and is compounded by hypoxia (low oxygen). Signs of Anaphylaxis include breathing distress, hypotension (low blood pressure) and hives. It also causes rapid swelling of the airway producing throat tightness and hoarseness and can result in other symptoms such as cough, nasal congestion, and flushed/warm skin. A respiratory arrest (unconscious and not breathing) may develop.
Now that you know the reason why anaphylaxis occurs and the symptoms it causes, let’s explain what to do when it strikes. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency which requires you to call 911! If you notice progressive hives, decreased ability to breathe due to swelling and tightening of the throat, call 911 right away- don’t delay. Check to see if the person has a prescription for anaphylactic shock and assist in getting their Epi-pen immediately. The adult pen is usually yellow and black in color, while the child pen is green and black. Then follow directions on the pen to assist the patient and have them insert the pen into the side of the thigh, through the pants if needed. The pen should stay in the muscle for 10 seconds. Note how the person improves and keep a close watch on them until 911 arrives.
Save a life! Know the steps to assisting with Epi-pen administration. For more information, you can visit the following websites:
http://aafa.org/ (Asthma and Allergy Foundation)
http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/asthma-allergies (Web MD)