Dealing With A Severe Allergic Reaction
What Is A Severe Allergic Reaction?
Most people have experienced allergic reactions during their lifetime, and most
of them are annoying rather than serious. Hay fever, a rash, even hives
can occur from many sources and they generally fade without any
intervention. However, there are times when a person can experience a
very severe allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis. Unlike a sneezing fit,
this reaction can cause breathing difficulties and cause the person to go into
shock. Generally, if treatment is not given quickly, the person can die
from this. Regardless, you should always have a first aid kit to handle as much as you can until professional medical help can assist.
Anaphylaxis usually occurs because the person has become extremely sensitized
to the allergen. This is very common in the case of bee or hornet stings.
After a certain number of stings, the person actually becomes hyper-allergic to
them and another one can trigger anaphylaxis. Other things that can cause
this sort of reaction are prescription medications, certain foods, and materials
used in medical testing. People who already have allergies are more
likely to suffer an attack of anaphylaxis.
What basically happens is that the body over-reacts to the problem and produces
too much histamine. This substance will begin to attack the organs of the
body, which is what causes the problem of anaphylaxis.
When this attack begins, the person may exhibit a number of symptoms such as
swelling of the face, hives, diarrhea, lightheadedness, and difficulty
breathing. Help should be given immediately to prevent the condition from
worsening. While a first aid kit isn't ideal in a allergy situation, it does hold very helpful items in this situation.
If sensitivity to stings or other factors is known, it is best to have the
person tested by a doctor. Some people are desensitized by specific
treatments to the allergen, but it is probably best to have an injection of
epinephrine on hand to deal with an extreme situation. Should the person
need the injection, it is best given in the outer thigh.
Hold the needle in place to the count of 10, and then withdraw the
needle. Massage the site to help the epinephrine spread. Call
emergency services as soon as the injection is given, and then try to get the
person as comfortable as possible.
Sometimes, there may be no warning, and anaphylaxis must be handled without
epinephrine. If the person is still conscious, help them lie down, and
then call 911. If they have any medications to help deal with this, such
as an antihistamine, let them take this. An unconscious person should be
placed on their side to help keep the breathing passages open. During
anaphylaxis, breathing may stop altogether; in this case, you will have to
place the person on their back and begin to administer CPR. You will have
to do this until emergency services arrive.
The main thing to remember when dealing with anaphylaxis is that you must act
quickly. This is not a situation where you can stop to consider your
options. Call emergency services immediately, administer any medications
available, and remain near the patient until help arrives.