What to Do if an Allergic Reaction Becomes Dangerous
Millions of Americans suffer from allergies, and while most of them only experience mild to moderate symptoms, others can be at risk for potentially deadly allergic reactions. Here is a list of signs that you’re having an allergic reaction and what to do if it becomes dangerous.
Signs that you are having an allergic reaction
- An itchy, sore throat
- Tightness in the throat; difficulty swallowing
- Shortness of breath or breathlessness
- Skin irritation, rash, or hives
- Abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting
- Weakness, fainting, headache, lightheadedness, dizziness, tightness around the chest, increased heart palpitations, weak pulse, low blood pressure, loss of consciousness.
Any of these symptoms can be an indication of a severe allergic reaction, depending on their severity (e.g. a somewhat sore throat vs. a painfully sore throat). Symptoms like fainting, vomiting, and loss of consciousness are often associated with life-threatening allergic reactions, and emergency medical personnel should be called immediately. A serious allergic reaction that can result in death is called Anaphylaxis.
Anaphylactic reactions are usually caused by:
- Foods like milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, and wheat.
- Medications like penicillin
- Insect bites or stings; particularly from bees, fire ants, and wasps.
Beware that when you first come into contact with an allergen, you may not initially experience a severe reaction; but that does not mean you don’t have a severe allergy. You may find that after multiple exposures to the allergen your reactions will become increasingly severe. That is why it is very important to see a doctor right after your first allergic reaction so they can determine how severe your allergy is and to treat it accordingly.
How to Respond to a Dangerous Allergic Reaction
If you have a dangerous allergic reaction you should take note of the following:
- If you’ve been diagnosed with a serious allergy, your doctor will prescribe emergency medicine to take in the event of an anaphylactic reaction. Injectable epinephrine like EpiPen can save your life during anaphylaxis.
- Epinephrine can increase blood pressure if you go into shock, stimulate the heart during cardiac arrest, and clear your bronchial tubes during a severe asthma attack; all of which can occur as a result of an anaphylactic reaction. If you have a serious allergy or have experienced anaphylaxis in the past, your doctor may prescribe an epinephrine and advise you to carry it with you at all times. It may also recommend that you take a small dose of epinephrine to prevent anaphylactic reactions. It is very important to inject the epinephrine properly in order for it to work. Your doctor can show you and your loved ones how to properly administer your injectable epinephrine in the event of an emergency.
- In addition, it’s best to have an allergic reaction action plan so you your loved ones and co-workers know what to do in the event of a dangerous reaction. You should discuss creating an allergic reaction action plan with your doctor.
- It’s important to seek emergency medical attention immediately in the event of a dangerous reaction; however, there are things you can do to while you’re waiting for the ambulance to arrive that can potentially save your life:
- If you’re having trouble breathing, do not lie down with your head elevated – this position actually constricts your airways even more. It’s best, if it all possible, to sit upright.
- If you or a loved one is having an allergic reaction that is not resulting in trouble breathing, in this situation it’s best to lie down and elevate your feet to avoid going into shock. Being wrapped in a blanket helps prevent shock, as well.
- If the allergic reaction has been caused by a bee sting, you can try scraping the stinger away with a credit card or your fingernail. Never use tweezers as that they can actually cause more venom to be released and worsen the reaction.
- Take deep cleansing breaths in order to remain calm. Remember: anxiety can actually exacerbate your allergic reaction.
Now that you know what to do if you have a dangerous allergic reaction, make sure to utilize these tips in the event of an emergency. Remember that you should also address any allergy-related issues by visiting an experienced professional such as New York-based Dr. Mayank Shukla. Book a consultation with him today so you can manage your allergies and lead a richer life.