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Anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction that happens minutes after an allergen comes into contact with the body. It may result from an extreme allergy to food such as shellfish, a stinging insect like a bee or wasp, or a drug such as penicillin. Alternatively, it may result from a combination of exercise and certain foods. With anaphylaxis, the person experiences any combination of the symptoms associated with allergic reactions, including itching, hives, the accumulation of fluid in the throat, difficulty breathing, wheezing, abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, and shock. It is crucial to know how to treat anaphylaxisdue to the fast and sometimes fatal nature of the condition.
Prepare an emergency anaphylaxis kit
The most important thing in the kit is epinephrine. It acts immediately to counter the symptoms of anaphylaxis. For example, when a food allergy causes the throat to close up, epinephrine will dilate or open the airways, allowing the person to breathe more easily. It also lessens the mucus secretions that sometimes accompany allergic attacks.
Epinephrine can be contained in an auto-injector so that the person can self-inject when he or she feels the symptoms coming on. A popular brand is EpiPen. In this case, the (epi) pen is mightier than the sword (scalpel).
The kit can also contain oral antihistamine medication prescribed by a doctor, along with a preparation of the right dose of epinephrine. If applicable, a quick-acting asthma medicine may be included. Laminated cards with emergency numbers and instructions for using the epinephrine injection must also be present in the kit. You can prepare multiple kits and place them in a medicine cabinet at home, in a desk at work, or in the bag you use daily. Do not forget to check the kits yearly to make sure they have not expired.
Make sure that those are around you often are ready
The emergency anaphylaxis kit is intended for real anaphylaxis conditions. For example, the EpiPen will have minimal to no effect on food sensitivities such as lactose intolerance. Family members, guardians, and trusted co-workers must be trained to recognize the symptoms and to find the kits in emergencies.
Education on how to use the emergency anaphylaxis kit is crucial. Part of the preparation involves learning to inject the epinephrine into ones own arm or leg, or into someone else. A bystander with Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training might even save a life.
Use the emergency anaphylaxis kit when the need arises
Once the symptoms are detected, dial 911 then use the kit. It is best for the person with anaphylaxis to try to stay calm since some symptoms, such as shortness of breath, may worsen with panic. In case you experience the side effects of epinephrine (e.g. dizziness, palpitations, and a headache), sit or lie down so that youre in a safe position. Once the symptoms are gone, make sure the kits are refilled and someone is around for 24 hours in case of another anaphylactic attack.
Work on a long-term solution
When the allergen is identified, steps can be taken to lower the bodys aversion to it. Immunotherapy has shown promise in suppressing the bodys sensitivity to allergens. It is usually done for those who have extreme allergies or cannot avoid the allergen (e.g. the ubiquitous dust mites).
An allergist customizes a one-to-five-year regimen for the patient: Injections with tiny amounts of the allergen, such as insect venom or pollen, are injected underneath the skin. Over time, the body is desensitized to the allergen.