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How is Anaphylaxis Treated?

Anaphylaxis should always be treated as a medical emergency.

Some people with a previous history of anaphylaxis will have an epipen (auto-injectcor containing epinephrine. This should be injected into their outer thigh muscle and held in place for 5-10 seconds. Instructions for how to use an epipen are on the pen itself.

You should call 999 for an ambulance whether the epipen has been given or not.

If after 5-10 minutes the person still feels unwell, a second injection should be given. This should be given in the opposite thigh.

The person should lie  with their legs raised on a chair or a low table unless they are having difficulty breathing when they should sit up to make breathing easier.

If the person is unconscious, you should put them in the recovery position  If the person's breathing is not normal or heart stops, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should be performed.

What are the signs and Symptoms?

Signs of anaphylaxis include:

itchy skin or a raised, red skin rash
swollen eyes, lips, hands and feet
feeling lightheaded or faint
swelling of the mouth, throat or tongue, which can cause breathing and swallowing difficulties
abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
collapse and unconsciousness


What is Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction (caused by the release of histamine in the casualties' body) that can be life threatening

In most allergic reactions the histamine is released locally into the tissues in a particular part of the body (skin, eyes etc.) so the symptoms of the allergic reaction only occur locally.

In anaphylaxis, the histamine is released into the bloodstream. This causes symptoms (see below) which can happen within minutes of exposure to the allergen) but sometimes up to an hour later. 

The most common causes of anaphyaxis include

certain foods (including peanuts, tree nuts or shellfish) – however, all foods can potentially cause anaphylaxis)
insect stings
drugs (usually given by injection)