When a Loved One Suffers from Anaphylaxis

Kristina Brooks | Aug 28th 2015 Apr 10th 2017

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Without treatment, anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can happen in seconds, can be fatal. But if someone you love begins to experience it, panic can make it harder to react effectively. Here are tips to help you stay prepared in case of an emergency.

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React quickly

Knowing the signs of a reaction and being able to respond quickly can be the difference between life and death when it comes to anaphylaxis. Early signs such as a skin rash, runny nose, and swelling may look like a normal allergic reaction, but can quickly turn severe. Also, if your loved one has trouble breathing or describes “a funny feeling,” it’s most likely anaphylaxis and time to act.

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Stay ready at all times

If signs of an allergic or severe reaction occur, try your best to stay calm and be ready with an action plan ahead of time. Early epinephrine treatment can be a lifesaver, so having an epinephrine injector handy should be a first line of defense. Two injectors are sometimes necessary for more severe reactions, so carrying a backup is always a good idea.

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Call for help

Even when you’re most prepared, the shock of seeing a loved one in pain can be disorienting. Always remember to call 911 at the first signs of anaphylaxis before any other treatment actions. If the epinephrine cannot be self-injected by your loved one, and you begin to panic, don’t be afraid to ask if someone else can help administer treatment and help them through the steps.

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Be a wingman

If your friend or loved one has severe allergies to food, it helps to learn how to correctly scan product labels for triggers or spot triggers on food menus, and also know how to advise restaurant staff about food prep. In social settings, be willing and able to help explain allergies for them, as sometimes he or she can be uncomfortable answering questions about their condition.

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Learn triggers as your own

Learning to avoid allergy triggers as if they were your own can go a long way in preventing an anaphylaxis attack. Packing allergy-safe snacks, and exercising caution with environmental and insect allergies not only increase safety, but show your loved one you take their condition as seriously as they do.

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Final Tip

Stress, anxiety and worry can often occur following a loved one’s anaphylaxis reaction. To help reduce these feelings during an emergency, remember to put the allergy into perspective. The number of reported allergy deaths is small, especially with food.  As well, almost all allergy deaths are preventable, and timely action saves lives.