Emergency care for Urgent Situations: Allergic Reactions
We all know how the immune system works; it produces antibodies which fight off foreign substances in the body to prevent us from getting sick or infected. However, when your body identifies a substance that is normally not harmful as being harmful, then an allergic reaction ensues. These substances that trigger allergic reactions are known as allergens and can be anything from substances in the environment such as dust, pollen to food and even medication. An allergic reaction occurs when your body comes into contact with any of the substances you are allergic to. Not all allergic reactions are born equal as while there are those that are minor and cause minor symptoms such as sneezing, watery eyes, skin irritation and such, there are those that are severe and cause severe symptoms which can be life-threatening such as breathing difficulties. Severe allergic reactions can lead to anaphylactic shock or anaphylaxis which is life threatening and requires immediate emergency care especially since it can lead to respiratory failure and even cardiac arrest. It is therefore important to know when one is suffering from a severe allergic reaction as well as how one should proceed, something this article will look to tackle head-on.
The first thing you should know about allergic reactions are the symptoms of severe allergic reactions or anaphylaxis. One thing to note about these allergic reactions is that they usually occur soon after contact with the allergen. Signs of a severe allergic reaction include trouble breathing and wheezing, swelling of the tongue, abdominal pain as well as vomiting and nausea, severe and persistent dizziness as well as collapse, a hoarse voice or difficulty speaking, swelling or tightness of the throat, paleness in children or eve cases where they become flaccid or limp, swelling in the face, a weak and fast pulse as well as reactions as far as the skin is concerned such as severe hives, rashes or itching. If one is presenting with these any of these symptoms, or a combination of any of them, then this is a sign of anaphylaxis and you should call 911 as soon as possible to ensure that they receive emergency care. Even if the symptoms appear to improve, they should still seek emergency care as there are cases of anaphylaxis where symptoms improve only to return soon after. The first thing to do if someone is suffering an allergic reaction is to check for the above symptoms of anaphylaxis.
If you notice symptoms of anaphylaxis, then you should call 911 immediately so that they can receive emergency care as soon as possible. You should then establish if they have an epinephrine auto-injector and help them administer it, usually done by pressing it on their thigh. You should avoid administering the epinephrine auto-injector on the buttocks or into a vein. The next thing you should do is have the person lie on their back and try to keep them as calm as possible as you await emergency services to arrive. However, if they are bleeding or vomiting, then you should turn them on their side. You should loosen any tight clothing such as a tie so that they can breathe more easily, as well as raising their feet some 12 inches or so above the ground then cover them up with a blanket. You should also ensure that you avoid giving them any oral medications, any drinks as well as also avoiding lifting their head. This is because if they are having trouble breathing, then these actions will make things worse and may even lead to them asphyxiating. If the affected person is not breathing, moving or appears nonresponsive, then you may need to administer CPR. You can still be able to do CPR even if you haven’t had formal training on it. Here, you should perform chest presses, usually about 100 per minute, as you wait for emergency services to arrive. It is however recommended that you learn CPR just in case the skill is required especially since there are different techniques for CPR for adults and that for children.
If you are at a high risk of severe allergic reactions, then there are a number of things you can do to prepare yourself for such a situation. First off, you should have some form of identification that helps anyone who will try to help you know that you have an epinephrine auto-injector so that they can administer it to you. You should also ensure you carry your epinephrine auto-injector with you all the time for when you may need it, with it being recommended that you carry two shots even though only one is required, as well as ensuring you steer clear of the substance you are allergic to.
The above is what you should know about severe allergic reactions including how you should proceed to ensure that you receive emergency care as soon as possible and avoid any unwanted consequences.