Allergic Response Emergency & What to Do in an Emergency

An emergency situation can develop after some allergic responses and require immediate and deliberate action. When an acute allergic reaction occurs, several things can happen almost immediately. If for some reason the mast cells of the immune system are subjected to a critical hypersensitivity response, they will release a massive amount of histamines into the circulatory system. This can lead to the throat swelling up and blocking the passage of air into the lungs and an increased pressure on the heart. If a sudden drop in blood pressure also occurs this leads to what is known as anaphylactic shock. This condition causes an immediate threat on one’s life if not treated within minutes.


The most important thing to remember if you or someone close to you is suffering from anaphylaxis is to try and act as quickly as possible while maintaining a calm and soothing manner. The last thing you want to do is induce a panic attack on top of an already critical situation.  Do your best to administer first aid if you can and call for medical help as soon as you are able.

First Aid

Make sure the person is lying down with their feet up if possible. This will help the flow of blood to the brain and reduce the chances of shock. Make sure that their airway is free from food and that any tight clothing is loosened, such as a necktie, so that they can breathe. Call emergency services and stay with the person until they arrive. Try and determine if they have any known allergies to any foods or medications, or if they actually carry any emergency medications in case of an allergic response. Many allergy sufferers who know they are prone to an acute response after being exposed to certain allergens will carry an emergency dose of adrenaline with them in the form of a single dose injection. If this is the case it should be given immediately.

Useful Information for the Emergency Services

If at all possible, try to pinpoint the cause of the allergic response. For example, if you have been out for a meal, what was it that was eaten just before the response occurred? Sometimes this can be relatively easy to determine, i.e. shellfish or peanuts. If possible make a note of the menu or food labels and keep a portion of the food in the freezer in case it can later be tested. If it was medication that triggered the allergic response, tell the emergency services what the medication was and how much was taken. Insects can often trigger allergic responses as well so be aware that it could be a bee or wasp sting, an ant bite or even a spider bite. If it was a sting try and remove the stinger.

After an Allergic Attack

After you have recovered from an acute allergic response such as anaphylaxis, go and see someone who specialises in allergies. This person can help you to determine the specific allergen that prompted your immune system to trigger such a critical reaction. Plan any allergy treatments that might be necessary. Develop a strategy for avoiding anaphylaxis in the future. Once you know exactly what triggered the response, carry an allergy aware card or wear a medic alert bracelet or pendant that will let anyone know what it is that you are allergic to. If the likely hood of repeated encounters with the trigger is high then make sure to carry an emergency ‘epi pen’ (dose of adrenaline) for safety at all times.

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