One in three Australians suffer from allergies – more than almost any other country in the world. Australia has seen an alarming increase in allergy sufferers over the past three decades, although doctors aren’t sure why.
In severe cases allergic reactions can be fatal, so knowing how to recognise and treat them could save the life of someone you know.
What Causes an Allergic Reaction?
An allergic reaction happens when a foreign substance enters the body, and the body misidentifies the substance as a threat. The immune system begins producing antibodies that attack the substance, and the body releases histamine, which causes inflammation in the affected areas.
Food allergies are the most widespread, with nuts, eggs and dairy being common allergens. Food allergy symptoms are similar to food intolerance symptoms, but allergic reactions happen faster, are more severe, and require different treatments.
How to Treat an Allergic Reaction?
The method for treating an allergic reaction depends on how severe it is. The most important thing is to stay calm and focus. First, remove any allergens from the skin if they’re present. If the person starts showing any of the following signs or symptoms, seek help immediately:
- Tightness of the throat or feeling that the airways are closing
- Hoarseness or difficulty speaking
- Swelling of the lips, tongue or throat
- Nausea, abdominal pain or vomiting
- An elevated heart rate
- Itchy, tingly or swollen skin
- Anxiety, dizziness or loss of consciousness
If the person has had an anaphylaxis episode in the past, you should seek help immediately, even if they aren’t showing symptoms of an allergic reaction. If they have an adrenaline auto injector with them you should use it. All adrenaline auto injectors have instructions written on them, which you should read carefully before using.
Apply auto injector into the upper outer thigh muscles, avoiding veins and the buttocks muscles and hold for 3 seconds. Then call 000. The person may need more than one shot if their symptoms do not improve. If there is no improvement after 5 minutes use a second device if one is available. If the symptoms are life-threatening you may need to perform CPR until emergency services arrive.
After anaphylaxis, someone should stay with the person for at least 24 hours in case they have another reaction.
If you’re interested in learning how to treat severe allergic reactions and other first aid procedures, why not give us a call?