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At Mini First Aid we realise that anaphylaxis is a subject that really frightens parents.
Whether you already know your children have a severe allergy or whether you’re a new parent, starting on your weaning journey  and don’t yet know if your child may be allergic to something, it can be quite a worrying time.

Did you know that between 5-8% of children now suffer from some kind of food allergy?
That’s why it’s important to keep an eye out on what babies are eating during those early stages of weaning.

As we always say at Mini First Aid, it’s better to know it and not need it, than to need it and not know it.
Here, at Mini First Aid, we’ve put together a guide on everything you need to know about anaphylaxis and what to look out for.

After all, being prepared and knowing the signs of an allergic reaction can save a child’s life.

What is anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It happens when the body’s immune system reacts inappropriately in response to the presence of a food or substance that it wrongly perceives to be a threat causing the body to go into shock, a sudden drop in blood pressure and narrowing of the airways, blocking breathing.

What are the symptoms of anaphylaxis?

Symptoms can start within seconds or minutes of exposure to the food or substance you are allergic to and usually progress rapidly. On rare occasions there may be a delay of a few hours before symptoms start – this is why it is important to closely monitor anyone after they have been exposed to an allergen causing a severe allergic reaction which could be life threatening.

Here are some of the key symptoms to look out for:

  • Swollen tongue or lips
  • Hoarse voice
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficult or noisy breathing, a wheeze or a persistent cough
  • A dramatic fall in blood pressure (anaphylactic shock)
  • The person may become weak and floppy and may have a sense of something terrible happening
  • This may lead to collapse, unconsciousness and – on rare occasions – death

These symptoms can also occur on their own, without the more severe ones. Where that is the case, the allergic reaction is likely to be less serious, but you should watch carefully in case any of the more severe symptoms develop.

What are the causes of anaphylaxis?

The common causes of anaphylaxis include foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, shellfish, fish, sesame seeds and kiwi fruit, although many other foods have been known to trigger anaphylaxis. Even very small amounts can cause a reaction in some cases.

Non-food causes include wasp or bee stings, natural latex (rubber) and certain drugs such as penicillin. In some people exercise can trigger a severe reaction – either on its own or in combination with other factors such as food or medicines (e.g. aspirin).

What should I do if I severe allergic reaction occurs?

Dial 999 or 111 for immediate medical assistance

If you do not have the necessary medication, sit your child in a position that helps them to breathe. If they are unresponsive check their breathing. If they are breathing normally place them in the recovery position, if they are not, perform CPR.

If your child has the necessary medication then they should be given this as soon as any symptoms of anaphylaxis are present. A second dose should be given after 5-10 minutes if symptoms of anaphylaxis remain, or if there is any doubt about whether the symptoms have improved.

An ambulance must be called immediately following an injection of adrenaline, even if there is immediate improvement. The emergency service operator must be told the person is suffering from anaphylaxis and needs to be attended by paramedics. It’s really  important that the casualty always carries two adrenaline auto-injectors which are in date and of the correct dose.

As long as you are prepared and know the signs to look out for and how to react in a swift and calm way, then that is one of the most important parts of being able to help deal with the effects of an anaphylactic reaction.
If you need further help or have any first aid queries relating to your child, then please get in touch with us at Mini First Aid.