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Anaphylaxis ( Life Threatening Allergic Reactions )

Some people are highly allergic to certain insect bites or stings. Certain foods, such as peanuts, can also cause a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction.

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can rapidly cause death if not immediately treated. Anaphylaxis causes a dangerous drop in blood pressure leading to shock. It can also cause swelling of the airway leading to inability to breathe. Symptoms may occur within minutes of exposure to the allergen.

Symptoms and signs may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of lips, eyes, mouth or throat
  • Dizziness or faintness
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nausea/vomiting or diarrhea
  • Hives or rash
  • Flushed or pale skin
  • Loss of consciousness

If you are with someone experiencing an anaphylactic reaction:

  • Call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • Check to see if he/she is carrying an EpiPen. If the victim is able, have them inject themselves; if they are unable, assist them to use the EpiPen. EpiPen use is simple: Remember “blue to the sky, orange to the thigh”. Hold the pen firmly with the orange side pointing down. Remove the blue cap by pulling straight up- do not bend or twist. Push the orange tip firmly into the mid-outer thigh. You will hear a click- hold firmly in place for several seconds.
  • Lie the victim down with the legs and feet elevated, loosen tight clothing and keep them warm.
  • Monitor the patient closely. If the patient stops breathing or loses their pulse, start CPR and continue until help arrives.

The medication contained in EpiPens is potent but wears off quickly. Even if the victim feels better after receiving the injection of epinephrine, they must go to the hospital in case symptoms return.

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