What is Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure to something you're allergic to, such as peanuts or bee stings. So what could be the safety measures to prevent someone from having anaphylaxis?

This blog will tackle what anaphylaxis is and what to do when someone has anaphylaxis. Now, let’s define what anaphylaxis is.

What is anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is an extremely dangerous allergic reaction. The condition is caused by a massive over-reaction of the body's immune system.

The most common reactions are prescribed drugs, insect stings, nuts or seafood.

What are the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis symptoms usually occur within minutes of exposure to an allergen. Sometimes, however, anaphylaxis can occur a half-hour or longer after exposure. In rare cases, anaphylaxis may be delayed for hours.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Skin reactions, including hives and itching and flushed or pale skin
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Constriction of the airways and a swollen tongue or throat can cause wheezing and trouble breathing.
  • A weak and rapid pulse
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Dizziness or fainting.

What happens when in an anaphylactic reaction?

In an anaphylactic reaction, the immune cells release massive quantities of a chemical called histamine. This causes a rash and itching, but in enormous amounts can also cause life-threatening airway, breathing or circulation problems.

  • Airway - It can make blood capillaries leak' causing swelling that can block the airway.
  • Breathing - It can constrict the windpipes in the lungs, just like an asthma attack.
  • Circulation - It can make blood vessels dilate to three times their usual size, resulting in a life-threatening fall in blood pressure. If this happens, the casualty must lie down. Standing or sitting up could result in a lack of blood in the heart.

How to recognise anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis has three main characteristics:

  • A rapid onset - The casualty usually becomes very ill, very quickly.
  • A life-threatening - Airway, breathing or circulation problem (or a combination of them).
  • A skin rash - Flushing or swelling (but not all casualties have this).

Airway recognition:

  • Swelling of the tongue, lips or throat. A feeling of the throat 'closing up'.
  • A hoarse voice or loud pitched, noisy breathing.

Breathing recognition:

  • Breathing difficulty, wheezy breathing or o 'tight chest' (the equivalent of an asthma attack.

Circulation recognition:

  • Dizziness, feeling faint or passing out, particularly if sat upright.
  • Pole, cold, clammy skin and fast pulse. The rash may disappear.
  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhoea (caused by capillaries leaking in the gut).

Remember: The casualty might have only ONE of the life-threatening ABC problems, but equally, they could have all three! They may also have anxiety and a sense of impending doom.

How to treat anaphylaxis?

  • Lay the casualty down in a comfortable position:
  • If the casualty feels light-headed or faint - DO NOT sit or stand them up. Lay them down immediately and raise the legs if they still feel faint.
  • If the casualty has Airway or Breathing problems only, they may prefer to sit up as this can make breathing more manageable, but extreme care should be taken - if they feel light-headed or faint, lay them down immediately.
  • Lay the casualty down in a comfortable position:
  • The casualty may carry an auto-injector of adrenaline. So this can save their life if it's given promptly. The casualty should be able to inject this on their own but, if necessary, assist them in using It.
  • If the casualty becomes unconscious, check the airway and breathing and resuscitate if necessary.
  • The dose of adrenaline can be repeated at 5 -15 minute intervals if there is no improvement or symptoms return.
  • Call 999/112 for emergency help.

Where can I find online first aid training courses for anaphylactic shock?

The Mandatory Training Group is the leading UK provider of accredited statutory and mandatory training courses for all sectors, including health and social care, education, local government, private companies, charitable and third sector organisations.

Alternatively, you can contact our helpful Support Team byclicking hereto tell us your more about online training courses for anaphylaxis.

Online anaphylaxis training courses, qualifications, and programmes

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Frequently asked questions and answers about anaphylaxis

Here at The Mandatory Training Group, we receive many questions about the statutory and mandatory training courses for anaphylaxis. We have selected a few of these questions and answered them below.

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What is anaphylaxis - The Mandatory Training Group UK -

What is anaphylaxis? - The Mandatory Training Group UK.

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