First aid: Anaphylaxis
A life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) can cause shock, a sudden drop in blood pressure and trouble breathing. In people who have an allergy, anaphylaxis can occur minutes after exposure to a specific allergy-causing substance (allergen). In some cases, there may be a delayed reaction or anaphylaxis may occur without an apparent trigger.
If you're with someone having an allergic reaction with signs of anaphylaxis:
If you're with someone having signs of anaphylaxis, don't wait to see whether symptoms get better. Seek emergency treatment right away. In severe cases, untreated anaphylaxis can lead to death within half an hour. An antihistamine pill, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl, others), isn't sufficient to treat anaphylaxis. These medications can help relieve allergy symptoms, but work too slowly in a severe reaction to help.
Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include:
Some common anaphylaxis triggers include:
If you've had any kind of severe allergic reaction in the past, ask your doctor if you should be prescribed an epinephrine autoinjector to carry with you.
Last Updated: 2010-01-05
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