How to Identify and React to Anaphylactic Shock
Anaphylactic shock is a severe and potentially life-threatening body-wide allergic reaction. This reaction may be brought on by many types of allergies, such as food, insect, or drug allergies. It’s important to recognize the symptoms of anaphylaxis and seek medical care as soon as possible in order to treat this serious condition.
Know the Symptoms
- Anaphylactic shock is caused by the sudden triggering of an allergy. Its symptoms often occur within minutes of contact with an allergen. A sudden drop in blood pressure may cause dizziness or fainting. The narrowing of airways and swelling of the throat, mouth, or tongue in response to an allergen can cause difficulty or even inability to breathe. Other symptoms include hives or a rash on the skin, vomiting or nausea, a weak and racing pulse, and an impending feeling of doom or disaster.
Stay Calm and Seek Help
- The most important thing you can do in cases of anaphylactic shock is to remain calm. Assess the situation and call an emergency number such as 911, or visit an emergency medical facility immediately for treatment. If anaphylaxis has caused the cessation of breathing or a heartbeat, CPR may be administered. Many people who are at risk for such a severe allergic reaction carry a one-use epinephrine autoinjector, sometimes known as an EpiPen. If an injector is available, use it as soon as possible by injecting the medication into the thigh.
- Even if symptoms improve after an EpiPen injection, professional medical care to address the situation is still needed. Inform paramedics or doctors that you have administered epinephrine and keep the injector for identification if possible. You should also inform medical staff of the allergen and, if possible, how contact occurred.
Anaphylactic shock can be managed and prevented with the treatment available from the allergy doctors at Allergy & Asthma SpecialistsSM. We specialize in providing effective, state-of-the-art asthma and allergy treatment throughout Pennsylvania. Visit our website for more allergy and emergency information, or call 1(800)86-COUGH to schedule an appointment at one of our eight locations.