Anaphylaxis – Four facts you should know about severe allergies

Do you have a friend whose child is severely allergic and at risk of Anaphylaxis? Is there a child in your kid’s class? Do your kids love peanut butter and nutella?

Here at KidStart we have heard stories of parents of children with nut allergies and their worry of people not knowing the dangers or what to do and how quickly. So we’d like to invite you to read our four things you should know and watch a lovely video of a dad and daughter showing you what to do.

1. What is Anaphylaxis?

Allergies occur when the body’s immune system reacts to a particular substance as though it’s harmful. Anaphylaxis is an extreme allergic reaction that can result in death. It is a medical emergency and needs urgent treatment. Anaphylaxis usually develops within minutes of exposure so you need to act fast.

2. What are the signs of Anaphylaxis?

Initial signs are similar to mild allergies: Symptom of Anaphylaxis - read, itchy eyes
  • –   sneezing and an itchy, runny or blocked nose (allergic rhinitis)
  • –   itchy, red, watering eyes (conjunctivitis)
  • –   wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath and a cough
  • –   a raised, itchy, red rash (hives)
But can quickly develop: Symptom of Anaphylaxis - Hives skin rash
  • –   swollen red eyes, lips, hands and feet
  • –   feeling lightheaded, faint or confused
  • –   swelling of the mouth, throat or tongue
  • –   serious breathing and swallowing difficulties
  • –   Blue skin or lips
  • –   abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
  • –   collapse and unconsciousness
So you need to act even if the symptoms seem mild at first. Source: NHS Allergy Symptoms

3. What to do for Anaphylaxis

    • 1. Remove the allergen trigger
      • –   If whatever triggered the allergic reaction – the allergen – is still present, remove it
      • –   Thoroughly clean skin that has been in contact with the allergen e.g. peanut butter from fingers
    • 2. An injection of a medicine called adrenaline should be given as soon as possible
      • –   People with a previous history of anaphylaxis will have an Adrenaline Auto-Injector with them (Emerade, EpiPen and Jext are brands prescribed in the UK).
      • –   Do not wait for symptoms to develop or for someone to arrive.
      • –   Inject into their outer thigh muscle (works through clothes) and hold in place for 10 seconds. (not easy with a small child so get help if possible)
      • –   If after 5 to 10 minutes the person still feels unwell, a second injection should be given in the opposite thigh.
      • –   A second dose may also be given if the person improves but becomes unwell again.
    • 3. Call for an ambulance on 999
      • –   Do this whether or not adrenaline has been given.
      • –   Inform the emergency services that the patient is in anaphylaxis.
    • 4. The person should rest
      • –   Ideally get them to lie flat, with their legs raised on a chair or a low table.
      • –   Adrenaline will raise the heart rate and may cause vomiting or anxiety. These side effects should reduce if they rest.
      • –   If they are having difficulty breathing, they should sit up to make breathing easier.
    • 5. If the person is unconscious
      • –   You should move them to the recovery position – on their side, supported by one leg and one arm, with the head tilted back and the chin lifted.
    • 6. If the person’s breathing or heart stops
      • –   Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should be performed.
Further treatment will be carried out in hospital. Watch this video for advice on using an epi-pen on a toddler:

4. What you can do today

The most effective way of helping is being aware if your friend’s or your children’s friends have a serious allergy and helping them avoid exposure. The most common triggers of anaphylaxis are:
      • –   Insect stings – particularly wasp and bee stings
      • –   Peanuts and tree nuts (Brazil, cashew, chestnut, hazelnut, macadamia, pecan, pistachio, pine nut, almond and walnut)
      • –   Other types of foods – such as milk and seafood
      • –   Certain medicines – such as antibiotics
If in doubt, always check the food’s ingredients list for allergens before giving it to an allergic child. Before you prepare your next packed lunch or snack bag for the park, read our handy article for alternatives to peanuts.

If you or your child are suffering from allergies:

Boot’s Web MD service offers advice on questions to ask your GP or peadiatritian about your child’s allergies. Also check out Boot’s offers on allergy relief (up to 5% back). Pharmacy 2 U offer £3 back on consultations and 5% on purchases for hay fever and allergy relief. Lloyds offer a free asthma test and lots of advice and support. The Lloyds Pharmacy Allergy Reliever is designed to use red light therapy to suppress the cells that release histamine – available for only £12 (40% off) if you enter code SNEEZE40 plus 4% KidStart savings.

For severe allergies, find out more from the following association:

Anaphylaxis Campaign is the only UK-wide charity solely supporting people at risk from severe allergic reactions. They empower patients, carers and healthcare professionals through their Allergy Wise online training.

KidStart a little help along the way