WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Anaphylaxis is also called anaphylactic shock. It is a severe reaction that happens after you are exposed to something you are allergic to. It can cause a rash, swelling of the mouth and throat, wheezing, and low blood pressure. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening if it is not treated as soon as possible.
AFTER YOU LEAVE:
- Epinephrine: This medicine is used to treat the symptoms of anaphylaxis. It helps decrease throat swelling and helps you breathe easier. This is a shot you can give yourself if you have another serious reaction. Your primary healthcare provider will teach you and your family when and how to give epinephrine shots.
- Bronchodilators: You may need this medicine to help open your airways so you can breathe more easily.
- Antihistamines: These medicines help decrease itching, swelling, and other symptoms of anaphylaxis.
- Antiulcer medicines: This medicine is also used to help decrease histamine levels and help reduce the symptoms of anaphylaxis.
- Steroid medicines: This medicine decreases inflammation during anaphylaxis.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider as directed:
You may need to see an allergy doctor or immunologist. They may do blood and skin tests to learn what you are allergic to. They can teach you the best ways to avoid the allergens that caused your anaphylaxis. You may need immunotherapy or allergy shots to make you less sensitive to the things that you are allergic to. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Protect yourself from bee or wasp stings:
- Always wear shoes.
- Eat indoors during warm weather.
- Wear long sleeves and pants if you garden, trim trees, or mow the lawn.
- Do not wear perfume or hair spray when you are outside.
- Do not wear brightly colored clothes outside.
- If you have been stung by an insect, scrape the stinger out with a knife or your fingernail right away. Do not squeeze the stinger because it may still have some venom (poison) in it. Apply ice to the area.
- Ask someone to stay with you: Someone should stay with you for the next 24 hours if you have had a bad reaction to an allergen. This is in case your signs and symptoms return.
- Avoid allergens: Carefully read labels on food and medicine to see if they contain allergens. Allergens such as nuts or fruit may be hidden in prepared food like meat dishes or cookies. Learn which products that have latex in them. Always tell your caregivers if you are allergic to latex.
- Let others know: Tell friends, neighbors, and relatives that you have a serious allergy. They should know what to do if you have a reaction to an allergen.
- Make an emergency kit and carry it with you: It should contain an epinephrine shot and antihistamine pills. It may also contain a bronchodilator inhaler. You should always have your kit with you in case you have another reaction. It is a good idea to have one on your person, one in your car, and one at home. Give yourself epinephrine and take the antihistamine if you develop symptoms of an allergic reaction, or if you know you've been exposed to the thing that triggers your anaphylaxis. Ask your primary healthcare provider if you should also carry a bronchodilator as part of your kit. Call your primary healthcare provider or go to the hospital if you use the emergency kit.
- Call 911 if you ever develop signs or symptoms of anaphylaxis again.
Medical alert identification:
Wear medical alert jewelry or carry a card that says you have had anaphylaxis. If you know what you are allergic to, put that on your bracelet. You may get a bracelet from your local drugstore or ask your primary healthcare provider where to get one. Emergency caregivers will be able to treat you quickly in case of a future attack.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- You have itching or swelling after you eat or use medicine.
- You have new symptoms or earlier symptoms return.
- The area around an insect sting gets red, warm, sore, and swollen.
- You have nausea or vomiting .
- You have stomach cramps or diarrhea.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You develop a rapidly swelling, itchy rash or hives.
- You have breathing problems, wheezing, or a tight feeling in your chest or throat.
- Your mouth or tongue is swollen.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.