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First Aid for Anaphylaxis

Last updated March 5, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD MPH

Blausen.com staff. "Blausen gallery 2014

Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that is potentially life-threatening. It can occur within seconds or a few minutes of exposure, to the possible allergen.


IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Read This First

All episodes of Anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions) should be evaluated by a trained medical professional, as soon as possible! DO NOT wait! Failure to obtain evaluation as soon as possible may result in serious injury or death. Call 911 (or your local emergency number) immediately, if you are experiencing a severe allergic reaction.

What is Anaphylaxis?

  • Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that is potentially life-threatening. It can occur within seconds or a few minutes of exposure, to the possible allergen
  • Anaphylaxis may be caused by a variety of allergens including toxins from insect bites, certain medications, and ingesting foods such as shellfish and peanuts. Hospitalization and strict monitoring is usually necessary

What are the Causes of Anaphylaxis?

The causes of Anaphylaxis include:

  • Stings from insects like bees or wasps
  • Use of medications (such as penicillin)
  • Consuming foods such as tree nuts, fish, shellfish, eggs, and peanuts

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Anaphylaxis?

The signs and symptoms of Anaphylaxis include:

  • A weak and rapid pulse
  • Swelling of the face, eyes, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Skin reactions such as itching, hives, rashes, flushed, pale skin
  • Breathing difficulties, caused by constriction of airways
  • Trouble speaking or swallowing
  • Unconsciousness, dizziness, or fainting
  • May cause shock from sudden drop in blood pressure.
  • Watery eyes, runny nose
  • Diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain

How is First Aid administered for Anaphylaxis?

First Aid tips for Anaphylaxis include:

  • Call 911
  • If available, use injectable epinephrine (Epipen) as directed
  • Ensure that the person does not drink or eat anything
  • Loosen tight clothing
  • Turn the person onto their side, in order to prevent them from choking; if there is any vomiting or bleeding from the mouth
  • Cover the person with a blanket, keep them warm
  • Make the person lie still on their back, having elevated their feet
  • If the person is not breathing, begin and continue CPR until the paramedics arrive
  • Seek emergency treatment, even if the symptoms improve

Who should administer First Aid for Anaphylaxis?

Any person around the victim may begin to administer First Aid; however, a medical professional is required for further treatment.

What is the Prognosis of Anaphylaxis?

The prognosis depends on prompt treatment provided. Anaphylaxis is life-threatening; however, it is usually not fatal with timely administration of First Aid.

How can Anaphylaxis be Prevented?

A few helpful tips to prevent Anaphylaxis:

  • Avoid known allergens
  • Wear a medical ID tag or bracelet (if you are severely allergic to any particular substance)
  • Carry epinephrine injections (epipen) with you

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Keep away from substances that trigger allergic reactions
  • Carry a prescribed epinephrine injection (epipen) and oral antihistamine (an allergy medication, like diphenhydramine or Benadryl) if there is a past history of any kind of severe allergic reaction

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?


References and Information Sources used for the Article:


Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:


Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: May 28, 2013
Last updated: March 5, 2018