CPR First Aid


Anaphylaxis/Allergic Reaction – What would you do?

Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It may be identified with different signs and symptoms. It is important to know what these are so you can seek medical help immediately. Doing this may be done by understanding the meaning of Anaphylaxis, its signs and symptoms, and first aid treatment.

What is the Meaning of Anaphylaxis? 

The meaning of Anaphylaxis, which is also called anaphylactic shock, is found under immunology. Immunology is a branch of biology and medicine that involves the study of immune systems in all organisms. According to Britannica, Anaphylaxis is a severe, immediate, and possibly a deadly systemic allergic reaction. This is caused by exposure to a foreign substance that a person has become sensitized to.

What Foreign Substances may Cause Anaphylaxis?    

Anaphylaxis may occur after exposure to almost any foreign substance which may be:

  • Venom from insect bites or stings
  • Food and/or food additives
  • Medication
  • Latex

Which Insect Bites May Cause Anaphylaxis?

Certain insects may cause Anaphylaxis when they bite. These are the following:

  • Fire ants
  • Bees
  • Wasps
  • Hornets

Which Food may Cause Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis may be triggered by eating a certain food which may be:

  • Peanuts
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Wheat
  • Red Meat

Which Food Additive may Cause Anaphylaxis?

Below are food additives that a person may have an intolerance to:

  • Sulfite
  • Sodium Benzoate
  • Food Colorings

Which Medication may Cause Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis may be induced by the following drugs:

  • Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Beta-Lactam and Non-Beta-Lactam Antibiotics
  • Radiocontrast Media (RCM)
  • Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs)
  • Neuromuscular Blocking Agents (NMBAs)
  • Sugammadex
  • Hypnotics
  • Opioids
  • Chlorhexidine
  • Dyes
  • Colloids

Who is Prone to Experiencing Anaphylaxis in Australia?

Anaphylaxis may affect anyone at any age. It may be more common for:

  • Older people
  • People with breathing problems
  • People with other allergic conditions
  • People with a skin condition

Is there a High Death Rate Caused by Anaphylaxis in Australia?

Compared to the other developing countries, Australia has been the leading country in which more people die from Anaphylaxis. Between 1997 and 2013, the Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded a total of 324 deaths from Anaphylaxis.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Anaphylaxis?

The signs and symptoms of Anaphylaxis may occur minutes to hours after exposure to an allergen. These may include:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Flushed or pale skin
  • Low blood pressure
  • Swollen tongue or throat that may lead to wheezing or difficulty in breathing
  • Weak and rapid pulse
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting

What is the First Aid Treatment for Anaphylaxis?

A person who is experiencing Anaphylaxis should be injected with epinephrine immediately.

What is Epinephrine?

Epinephrine, also called adrenaline, is both a hormone and neurotransmitter. It is secreted by the medulla of the adrenal glands. It increases cardiac output and raises glucose levels in the blood.

What is Epinephrine Injection?

Epinephrine injection is used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions like Anaphylaxis. Once this is administered, the muscles in the airways relax and the blood vessels tighten.

How is Epinephrine Injection Done?

Epinephrine injection is available in vials and as a prefilled automatic injection device. These contain a solution (liquid) and are injected under the skin or into the muscle. One of the recognized brands for automatic injection devices is the EpiPen auto-injector.

How is the EpiPen Auto-Injector Used?

The EpiPen should only be injected into the middle of the outer thigh (upper leg). It should not be injected into the veins, buttocks, fingers, toes, hands, or feet. If accidentally injected, seek immediate medical help. If used on children, there may be injuries if incorrectly administered. This may be avoided if their legs are held firmly before the injection.

How many EpiPen injections Should be Done?

There are prescribed two EpiPen injections done in a single anaphylactic episode. Additional doses of epinephrine should only be provided by a healthcare professional. Seek emergency help if Anaphylaxis symptoms persist.

What Are the Dosage and Administration of EpiPen?

Below are the prescribed dosage and administration of EpiPen:

  • Patients weighing 30 kg / 66 lbs or more: EpiPen 0.3 mg
  • Patients weighing 30 kg / 66 lbs or less (15 kg / 33 lbs): EpiPen Jr 0.15 mg

Are There Side Effects of Using EpiPen?

There have only been rare situations when infection developed at the injection site within a few days after using the EpiPen. Contact a healthcare professional if the below are observed:

  • Redness that does not go away
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • The area feels warm to the touch

There may also be experienced adverse reactions to epinephrine which may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Apprehensiveness
  • Restlessness
  • Tremor
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Palpitations
  • Pallor
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Respiratory difficulties

Seek immediate medical help if these adverse reactions are experienced.

Using the EpiPen auto-injector

For situations like Anaphylaxis, correct usage of the EpiPen auto-injector is vital so that this emergency may be treated immediately. This may be difficult to do if you are not familiar with using injections or medical devices. Fortunately, the knowledge and skills in administering injections for allergic reactions like Anaphylaxis may be acquired. These may be learned if you enrol in first aid training.

What is First Aid Training?

First aid training provides you with the necessary skills and knowledge in effective response to emergencies, like Anaphylaxis. A first aid certificate is provided if you have proven yourself to be qualified to perform first aid treatments in emergencies. These include performing the appropriate first aid steps when signs and symptoms of Anaphylaxis occur and using the EpiPen injector. Other possible emergencies are heart attack, seizures, stroke, bleeding, choking, injuries, and others.

Where to enrol in a First Aid Course?

Fortunately in Australia, there are accredited first aid course providers that are regulated by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA). Aside from knowing how to respond to Anaphylaxis by appropriately using the EpiPen, a first aid course also provides you with other life-saving skills. These include performing Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), doing the correct recovery position, using an asthma puffer, applying bandages, and more.

How much Does a First Aid Course Cost?

Costs of a first aid course vary on the provider. It may range from $85 to $195. This accredited first aid course provider offers discounts and a price beat by 10% if you can find a better price from the other competitors.


Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that requires an immediate response. The first aid treatment for Anaphylaxis is the administration of Epinephrine through an auto-injector device, like the EpiPen. First aid training from accredited providers in Australia may help you develop the necessary skills and knowledge to respond to Anaphylaxis appropriately.

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