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Anaphylaxis

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that usually happens without warning. It is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately. Your risk for anaphylaxis increases if you have asthma that is severe or not controlled. Medical conditions such as heart disease can also increase your risk. It is important to be prepared if you are at risk for anaphylaxis. Your symptoms can be worse each time you are exposed to the trigger.

AFTER YOU LEAVE:

Medicines:

  • Epinephrine can relieve life-threatening signs and symptoms, such as swelling in your throat that blocks your ability to breathe. It is given by immediate injection or IV.

  • Medicines , such as antihistamines, steroids, and bronchodilators, can decrease inflammation, open airways, and make breathing easier. These medicines may be taken as a pill or inhaled.

  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider (PHP) 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 PHP or allergy specialist as directed:

Allergy testing may reveal allergies that can trigger anaphylaxis. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Be prepared for anaphylaxis:

  • Carry epinephrine with you at all times. If you think you have been exposed to a trigger and have signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, call 911. Inject epinephrine. Then lie down on your back with your feet raised. Ask if you need to carry other medicines.

  • Identify and avoid known triggers. Read food labels for ingredients. Look for triggers in your environment.

  • Create an anaphylaxis emergency action plan with your PHP or allergy specialist. The emergency action plan lists the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis. It also gives directions for what to do in case of anaphylaxis. Give this plan to family, coworkers, and care providers.

  • Wear medical alert jewelry or carry a card that lists your allergies. Ask where you can get these items.

  • Ask about treatments to prevent anaphylaxis , such as allergy shots.

Contact your PHP or allergy specialist if:

  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • You have any signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis:

    • A skin rash, hives, swelling, or itching

    • Trouble breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing

    • Throat tightening or swelling of your lips or tongue

    • Trouble swallowing or speaking

    • Dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, or confusion

    • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal cramps

  • You have taken medicine for anaphylaxis and your symptoms return.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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.

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