5 Ways to Be Prepared for an Allergy Emergency
Quick action is essential during a serious allergic reaction. Kind of like a fire drill, it's smart to occasionally review the instructions your doctor gave you and run through the steps you would take in an emergency.
Here are the top things to know if you're at risk for anaphylaxis:
- If your doctor has prescribed an injector for emergencies, make sure it is always with you: at school, at a party, on vacation — everywhere. Work with your school to decide where the injector will be stored and how you'll get it quickly, if needed. Don't leave it in the car or anywhere else where it might get too hot; temperature (even body temperature) can affect how well epinephrine works.
- Know the signs of a serious reaction, such as difficulty breathing and wheezing, and be ready to act quickly. Follow the instructions your doctor has given you.
- Practice how to use the epinephrine injector so you don't forget. Are there caps to remove? Which end rests on the skin? Where on the body do you give the injection? How do you hold the syringe and release the medicine? Ask for a demonstration at your doctor's office. Visit the manufacturer's website to get detailed instructions. Manufacturers also may supply a practice syringe that is not loaded with epinephrine, so you can practice all the steps safely.
- If you have a reaction that seems to be anaphylaxis, give yourself the injection right away. Have someone call 911 while you are giving yourself the injection. If you are alone, call 911 right after injecting epinephrine or get to the nearest emergency room as soon as possible. Sometimes people have a second wave of symptoms that need medical care. Take the used epinephrine container to the hospital with you.
- Store the epinephrine injector according to the manufacturer's directions. Note its expiration date and get a new one when the one you have expires.