Lesson 5 – Anaphylaxis

What is Anaphylaxis?

A life-threatening reaction to an allergen or antigen.

Food is the biggest cause of fatal anaphylaxis in children, with 187 deaths recorded in children since 1992 arising from food-related anaphylaxis (BMJ, 2021).

Common Triggers*

  • Foods u2013 including nuts, milk, fish, shellfish, eggs and some fruits.
  • Medicines and Drugs u2013 including some antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin.
  • Insect Stings u2013 Particularly wasp and bee stings.
  • General Anaesthetic
  • Contrast Agents u2013 Dyes used in some medical tests to help certain areas of your body show up better on scans.
  • Latex u2013 a type of rubber found in certain brands of rubber gloves.

*AllergyUK (2023)

Recognising Anaphylaxis

Signs & Symptoms
Abdominal Pains
Anxiety / Panic
Breathing Difficulties
Coughing or Wheezing
Redness, Itchiness or Swelling of Skin
Red and Watering Eyes
Nausea or Diarrhoea
Swelling of Mouth, Face, and Throat
Increase in Heart Rate
Rashes & Hives
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Treating Anaphylaxis

  • Immediately call for an ambulance.
  • Support the casualty into a safe and comfortable position. If they are having breathing difficulties, sit them upright. If they are showing signs of low blood pressure or faintness, lay them down with their legs raised.
  • If the casualty loses consciousness, place them on their side in the Safe Airway Position.
  • If the casualty stops breathing, begin CPR.
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