An allergic reaction might be a medical emergency if it happens in two or more
of these systems — for example, hives
on the skin with stomach pain.
The most common signs that someone might have anaphylaxis after exposure to an
throat tightness or feeling like the throat or airways are closing
hoarseness or trouble speaking
nasal stuffiness or coughing
nausea, abdominal pain, or vomiting
fast heartbeat or pulse
skin itching, tingling, redness, or swelling
How Is Anaphylaxis Treated?
Anaphylaxis requires immediate treatment. It can get worse very
quickly. This is why doctors usually want people with life-threatening allergies to
carry a medication called epinephrine. Epinephrine enters the bloodstream
and works quickly against serious allergy symptoms; for example, it decreases swelling
and raises blood pressure.
Epinephrine is given as an injection. Doctors will prescribe an auto injector about
the size of a large pen that's easy for parents — and older kids — to
carry and use. If your child is prescribed epinephrine, your doctor will show you
how to use it.
Your doctor also might instruct you to give your child over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines,
too — but they won't work alone. OTC antihistamines are never a replacement
for epinephrine in life-threatening reactions.
If Your Child Has a Serious Reaction
If your child shows signs of a serious allergic reaction:
Step 1: Give the epinephrine auto-injector right away. Seconds
count during an episode of anaphylaxis. If you are alone with your child, give this
medicine first, then call 911. If someone is with you, have the person call 911 while
you give the epinephrine.
Step 2: Further treatment can be given at the emergency room,
if needed. Your child also needs to be under medical supervision for at least 4 hours.
This is because a second wave of serious symptoms (called a biphasic reaction)
Serious allergies can be alarming. But they're easier to recognize and treat, thanks
to greater awareness and the availability of epinephrine. Make sure that any caregivers,
teachers, or coaches know about your child's allergy and what to do in an emergency.