Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency that requires immediate medical assistance and treatment.
During an anaphylactic attack, you might receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if you stop breathing or your heart stops beating. You might also be given medications, including:
Epinephrine (adrenaline) to reduce your body's allergic response
Oxygen, to help you breathe
Intravenous (IV) antihistamines and cortisone to reduce inflammation of your air passages and improve breathing
A beta-agonist (such as albuterol) to relieve breathing symptoms
If you're with someone who's having an allergic reaction and shows signs of shock, act fast. Look for pale, cool and clammy skin; a weak, rapid pulse; trouble breathing; confusion; and loss of consciousness. Do the following immediately:
- Call ambulance
- Use an epinephrine autoinjector, if available, by pressing it into the person's thigh.
- Make sure the person is lying down and elevate his or her legs.
- Check the person's pulse and breathing and, if necessary, administer CPR or other first-aid measures.
If you have a serious allergy or have experienced anaphylaxis before, it's important to try to prevent future episodes.
If you're allergic to certain types of medicines, there are normally alternatives that can be safely used.
You can reduce your risk of being stung by an insect by taking basic precautions, such as:
- Moving away from wasps, hornets or bees slowly without panicking – don't wave your arms around or swat at them
- Using an insect repellent if you spend time outdoors, particularly in the summer
- Being careful drinking out of cans when there are insects around – insects may fly or crawl inside the can and sting you in the mouth when you take a drink
- Not walking around outside with bare feet
If you’re allergic to insect stings or any of the foods that cause anaphylaxis, or if you ever have had an anaphylactic reaction, ask your doctor to prescribe an epinephrine injection kit. Carry two injections at all times, and know how to use them. Make sure your family members, friends, and colleagues know the signs of anaphylaxis and can give you an injection if they need to. Don’t hesitate to use it if you start to show any symptoms of anaphylaxis. It won’t hurt you to take the shot as a precaution.