Anaphylaxis is an allergic emergency. It is a rapid,
severe allergic reaction that occurs when a person is exposed to an
allergen. When the allergen enters the bloodstream the body releases
chemicals to “protect” itself from the allergen. These
chemicals can cause dangerous symptoms, including breathing difficulty,
swelling, dizziness, shock, and even death.
Common warning signs of anaphylaxis are as follows:
Anaphylaxis is considered a medical emergency because death can occur within minutes; it requires immediate attention. The drug epinephrine is the preferred treatment for anaphylaxis and is available only by prescription. Given as an injection, via the EpiPen®, epinephrine rapidly constricts the blood vessels, relaxes the lung muscles to improve breathing, reverses swelling, and stimulates the heartbeat. The sooner anaphylaxis is treated, the greater the likelihood of survival. Therefore, you should be able to reach an EpiPen® within seconds whenever you are with a child with severe food allergies. Keep an EpiPen® with you at all times. It may be a good idea to store an EpiPen® unit wherever the child spends a lot of time, like at home, day care and school.