First Aid For Anaphylaxis – Be Prepared

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Whether a first aid situation is big or small it’s important to take it seriously. But there are some scenarios where time is of the essence – one of these is anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis is when someone suffers a severe and potentially fatal allergic reaction to something. The cause of the reaction is usually a food stuff, insect sting or medicine but can also include liquids or household chemicals. No matter what the cause, someone suffering what is called anaphylactic shock must be treated as a medical emergency – with the emergency services called as a rule.

Seeing someone in anaphylactic shock can be a very traumatic experience – especially if it’s a loved one, family member or friend. But it’s vital to stay as calm as you possibly can at all costs. Here’s the need to know facts about what to look out for and how to administer treatment until the emergency services arrive.

Symptoms and treatment

In the case of milder allergic reaction, standard anti-histamine medicine will usually be sufficient to treat the symptoms successfully. But if someone is going into anaphylactic shock as they will exhibit very obvious and extreme physical symptoms such as:

  • A swollen tongue and or lips, possibly accompanied by difficulty swallowing or speaking
  • Difficult, noisy or very wheezy breathing with a change in their voice (hoarseness) or vocal register
  • Dizziness, collapse or loss of consciousness

Your first response to these symptoms is to immediately call the emergency services and stay with the victim until they arrive. But what about first aid? Well, there is one special first aid device which can prove to be a life-saver. It’s called an adrenaline auto-injector.

Adrenaline auto-injectors

Adrenaline auto-injectors are more commonly known as ‘adrenaline pens’. This simple pen-shaped medical device can be used by anyone (even those without medical training) in an anaphylactic incident. They give the victim a single dose of adrenaline – either for children or adults. This dose will immediately work to alleviate the allergic reaction and should begin to provide relief for the victim.

It goes without saying that the adrenaline pen is a life-saver – such a little device can make a massive difference to someone who is an anaphylaxis sufferer. More important however is that anyone prescribed with an adrenaline pen should carry it with them at all times, know how to use it and let friends and family know how to use it too. Such simple actions can be the difference between life and death.


Colin Campton works in first aid training and believes with the right training we can all learn to save lives. Be careful out there, stay safe!

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