Recognize the symptoms of anaphylaxis and know how to respond
Anaphylaxis is an emergency medical condition that can quickly progress after initial symptom onset.1 Learn more about its prevalence, prevention guidelines, as well as why and how to respond.
is the uncommon?
And, with food allergic emergencies sending someone to the hospital every 3 minutes,5 and peanut allergies becoming more prevalent in children,3 it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms, as well as why and how to respond.
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Risk factors for anaphylaxis
Anaphylaxis can occur when susceptible individuals are exposed to certain allergens, the most common being food, insect stings, medications, and latex.6
People with asthma and/or other allergies who have experienced severe allergic reactions are more likely to experience anaphylaxis—even if an offending allergen didn’t cause anaphylaxis in the past.6
Early symptoms of anaphylaxis can be mild, but quickly progress. These include2,6:
- Trouble breathing
- Skin rash, redness, or swelling
- Severe itching
- Swelling of your face, lips, mouth or tongue
- Tightness of the throat
- Hoarse voice
- Abdominal pain
- Low blood pressure
- Rapid heart rate
- Losing control of urine or bowel movements
- Feeling very anxious
- Cardiac arrest
Because anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction, recognizing these symptoms, and their triggers, is critical.6
Have an Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan
Because anaphylaxis can be life-threatening, people at risk for anaphylaxis should practice allergen avoidance, and also have an Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan.
Medical Practice Guidelines address both anaphylaxis prevention and the importance of using epinephrine6:
- Avoid allergens
- Understand anaphylaxis and recognize its signs and symptoms
- Follow an emergency action plan
- Have access to 2 epinephrine auto-injectors
- Seek emergency medical care should a reaction occur
In the United States,
of fatal food allergic reactions occur outside the home and, when they occur, people are not always aware their food contained an allergen.1,7,8
When anaphylaxis occurs,
epinephrine should be administered immediately
Anaphylactic reactions should be treated immediately with an injection of epinephrine. Epinephrine auto-injectors are available by prescription and should be kept nearby at all times.
Because multiple epinephrine injections may be necessary to help treat an anaphylactic reaction as they can be unpredictable, knowing how to use— and being ready to use—an epinephrine auto-injector could help save a life.1,6
However, a 4-year, single-center study of 965 cases of anaphylaxis showed that only 51% of patients who had an auto-injector used it before arrival to the emergency department.9