What to do in an emergency
The best way to manage an allergic reaction is by following instructions on the ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis (emergency response plan). Essential information can also be found at First Aid Management of Anaphylaxis.
For allergy sufferers:
Those suffering from a food allergy should always carry a medical emergency kit, containing a personal ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis, prescribed adrenaline (epinephrine) autoinjector/s and other medications recommended by a doctor.
Don’t forget that your family, friends, teachers, childcare staff and work colleagues all need to know where your emergency medical kit is and how to use your adrenaline autoinjector in case of an emergency. You can purchase an autoinjector trainer device (with no needle and medication) from Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia via www.allergyfacts.org.au. Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia encourages people to have an emergency drill and practice using the adrenaline (epinephrine) autoinjector trainer device every 3-4 months.
For all Australians:
It’s important for all Australians to recognise the signs and symptoms of a reaction. If you notice these, it is essential you remain calm and act.
It is important to note that an allergic reaction may remain as a mild/moderate allergic reaction. Follow whatever instructions are on the ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis. Be aware that a mild/moderate reaction can quickly become severe so do not leave the person alone. Doctors sometimes order other medications for mild to moderate reactions (e.g. antihistamine) on the ASCIA Action Plan. If in doubt about whether you should administer the adrenaline (epinephrine) autoinjector, administer it, and then call an ambulance.
Signs of a severe reaction:
- Difficult/noisy breathing:
- Swelling of tongue
- Swelling/tightness in throat
- Difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice
- Wheeze or persistent cough
- Persistent dizziness or collapse
- Pale and floppy (in young children)
- Lay person flat, do not stand or walk. If breathing is difficult, allow to sit but do not stand.
- Give the adrenaline (epinephrine) autoinjector if available (instructions are included in the ASCIA Action Plan for Anaphylaxis, stored with the adrenaline autoinjector)
- Call an ambulance (Call triple zero – 000)
- Contact parent/guardian or other emergency contact
- Further adrenaline (epinephrine) doses may be given (when an additional adrenaline autoinjector is available), if there is no response after 5 minutes
- If in doubt, give the adrenaline autoinjector
- Adrenaline is life saving and must be used promptly. Withholding or delaying the giving of adrenaline can result in deterioration and death
Asthma or anaphylaxis? If someone suddenly develops severe breathing difficulty, give adrenaline (epinephrine) autoinjector FIRST and THEN asthma reliever medication.