Anaphylaxis is a sudden and severe allergic reaction that requires immediate medical emergency measures. It can be fatal. Reactions usually occur within minutes of exposure to an offending substance but sometimes within a few hours. Specific symptoms will vary between individuals and even between attacks in the same person.
Vancouver school health manual - Section 15: Allergies and anaphylaxis
Commons signs that someone is having an anaphylactic reaction include:
- Skin – hives, swelling, itching, warmth, redness or rash.
- Respiratory (breathing) – wheezing, shortness of breath, throat tightness, cough, hoarse voice, chest pain/tightness, nasal congestion, trouble swallowing or hay fever-like symptoms such as runny, itchy nose and watery eyes or sneezing.
- Gastrointestinal (stomach) – nausea, pain/cramps, vomiting or diarrhea.
- Cardiovascular (heart) – pale/blue colour, weak pulse, passing out, feeling dizzy or lightheaded or shock.
- Other – anxiety, feeling of “impending doom”, headache or uterine cramps in females.
Schools, parents and the school public health nurse all have a role to play in keeping children with severe allergies safe.
- Consult with schools and provide training for anaphylaxis management, treatment and auto-injector use.
- Provide schools with resources for anaphylaxis education.
- Notify the school every year about their child’s severe allergy and any changes in his or her condition.
- Work with the school tocomplete an emergency care plan for their child.
- Provide the child or school with at least one epinephrine auto-injector. It is recommended that parents provide two auto-injectors in case their child requires a second dose and to take on field trips.*
Avoidance strategies: The 3 A’s of preventing anaphylaxis
Anaphylaxis emergency care plan