Anaphylaxis is an extremely serious, life-threatening allergy which everyone should be aware of. According to Allergy UK, anaphylaxis is at the extreme end of the allergy spectrum and is classed as a medical emergency. To find out how to recognise such an emergency, check out Allergy UK’s First Aid Guide to Anaphylaxis.

Common triggers include peanuts, pine nuts or shellfish but any food could potentially cause anaphylaxis. Some chemicals, medicines, synthetic food additives and insect stings have also been known to trigger anaphylaxis in some individuals.

Symptoms include difficulty breathing due to airways closing, a drop in blood pressure, resulting in dizziness, fainting and confusion. Other symptoms of a severe reaction include swelling of the lips, tongue, mouth and/or face and a rash. Anaphylaxis occurs when the body releases histamine directly into the bloodstream, as opposed to a localised area of the body. The reaction usually occurs very within minutes of exposure to a known allergen, however, sometimes symptoms can occur an hour or so after exposure. Even if you don’t know what may have triggered the reaction, if the below symptoms occur do not hesitate to call for medical assistance. 

Signs of anaphylaxis:

  • Swollen tongue and/or throat
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Hoarse voice, difficulty speaking
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Difficulty breathing, noisy breathing
  • Dizziness, weakness, confusion, loss of consciousness
  • Sense of impending doom
  • After an insect sting: stomach cramps, vomiting

If you or someone else develops all or some of the above symptoms, call 999 and tell the call handler that you suspect anaphylaxis.

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