Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening reaction to an allergy. An anaphylactic reaction usually occurs after you come in contact with substances to which you are allergic—including foods, medications, or insect stings. Your immune system overreacts to the allergen by releasing chemicals. Your body thinks the chemicals will fight off the allergens, but they only serve to stir up symptoms that range from irritating to life-threatening (depending on the severity of your allergy). Usually, the symptoms occur in just one part of the body. For example, people may develop itchy eyes or a rash in reaction to a trigger food. In some cases, though, a reaction may affect several parts of the body or the entire body all at once, as in the case of anaphylaxis.
Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical treatment. The usual treatment is epinephrine or a visit to the emergency room. If anaphylaxis is not treated immediately, it could prove fatal.
When you are in the presence of others when you have an anaphylactic reaction, you could get the help you need. If you react when you are all alone, however, things could get scary. Most children are under the care of an adult so they can usually get an immediate response from a parent or babysitter. It is different for adolescents and adults, however. They may not have anyone around to help when danger strikes.
During an anaphylactic attack, you should seek help from anyone near you, even if you don’t know them. If you are prone to allergies, take time to make an action plan for what to do if you react when you are alone and can’t call for help.
Start by making a list of symptoms that signal that you are having a reaction. The plan should also include the steps that you should take if you are experiencing anaphylaxis. The most important step is to be ready with self-injecting adrenaline using an auto-injector. Keep two of the injectors with you at all times in case the first one fails. You should also have a way to phone for emergency medical help. This means that you should always be armed with a charged cell phone.
It is also important that you wear a medical ID alerting people of your condition. The medical ID will help inform passers-by or emergency responders about your allergies and medications.