Someone experiencing a severe allergic reaction can be life-threatening, but there are things you can do to help the person. A life-threatening allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis and can cause a person to go into shock, referred to as anaphylactic shock. A serious allergic reaction leading to anaphylactic shock can happen minutes after the person is exposed to the substance they are allergic to, such as shellfish, bee sting, peanuts, and so on. It is a scary experience, but easier to manage if you know what to do.
Symptoms of Anaphylactic Shock
Anaphylaxis can cause the person to have a sudden drop in blood pressure and quickly leads to trouble breathing, wheezing, trouble speaking, or hoarseness. They may feel a tightening in their throat like it’s closing. The tongue, lips, and throat may swell. They may feel nauseous, abdominal pain, or experience vomiting. They can experience itching, tingling sensations, and develop raised red areas on the skin (hives). Their heart rate and pulse may increase, and they may feel anxious, dizzy, or lose consciousness.
Actions to Take
If you’re with someone experiencing an allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), and they are conscious ask if they have an epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen, Auvi-Q, or others), many people carry these if they know they have a serious allergic reaction. If they do, then help them or inject the epinephrine into their thigh. Have them lie still on their back, loosen any tight clothing and cover them with a blanket. Do not give them anything to drink. Then consult with a medical professional. If the person is unconscious, call 911 and then begin life-saving measures by checking to see if the person is breathing. If they are, then wait for emergency services to arrive. If they are not, then begin CPR.
Never wait to see if the person’s symptoms get better or worse, seek medical treatment and advice right away. Call your nearest Complete Care location for more information if you have questions or if you need to speak with a professional.