What can I do about anaphylaxis?
Whether you or a family member is at risk, you work with children, or you simply want to know more, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of anaphylaxis.
It is important to remember that people with an allergy can be at risk of anaphylaxis.
If you suspect that you or your child has an allergy there are tests that can be done to help confirm a diagnosis and identify triggers. A test on its own is not enough to confirm an allergy; your doctor will also take your medical history into account.
There are a number of different tests that your doctor can order to help diagnose an allergy. You should always have allergy tests done by your GP, or a specialist allergist or clinical immunologist. They will only order scientifically validated tests, which are usually eligible for a Medicare rebate*.
* Medicare rebates apply to Australian residents only.
Identify and avoid triggers
Knowing and avoiding your specific triggers is the most important part of managing life-threatening allergies. But to do that, you need to know what to avoid, and where that substance might be lurking.
If you are at risk of anaphylaxis it is very important that your family, friends and work colleagues, or your child’s teachers also know; and that they know what to do if you do have an anaphylactic reaction. You and your doctor may decide you should carry an adrenaline auto-injector, so you can receive immediate treatment if you experience an anaphylactic reaction. Adrenaline auto-injectors are available from pharmacies, over the counter or with a prescription.
Learn to recognise the early symptoms of an allergic reaction
Sometimes, before a severe anaphylactic reaction occurs, a person may experience some symptoms that warn them they are at risk. These symptoms will be different for everyone, but could include tingling of the lips and tongue in people with food allergies, for example.
Recognising any early symptoms means you can take action before anaphylaxis occurs.
Know how to respond if symptoms occur
Avoiding triggers is not always easy, because they are not always obvious. For example, a person with a severe peanut allergy might not realise that the chocolate cake they are about to eat contains traces of peanuts. Always ask about your food allergy if you are not sure, and if in doubt, just don’t eat it. Accidental exposure to a trigger is always a risk no matter how carefully prepared you are.
Knowing what to do if you, or a person you care for, have a severe allergic reaction can be a life-saving skill. It is recommended that everyone who has a confirmed allergy should have an Action Plan for Anaphylaxis. This Action Plan should be approved and signed by your doctor.
In an anaphylaxis emergency
Lay the person flat.
Administer adrenaline auto-injector (if they have one) into outer mid thigh and hold for 10 seconds.
Phone 000 in Australia or 111 in NZ and ask for an ambulance.
Commence CPR if necessary.