How to Treat Anaphylactic Shock

How to Treat Anaphylactic Shock

Sarah McLoughlin
Posted by Sarah McLoughlin

Date: Friday, 23 March 2018. -  
Blog, First Aid Emergencies

Anaphylactic shock, also known as anaphylaxis, is a severe and life-threatening reaction to a trigger. Anaphylaxis is the result of the immune system overreacting to a trigger. Common triggers are allergic reactions to some foods such as nuts, milk, shellfish and eggs as well as medicines and insect stings.

Anaphylaxis is considered to be a medical emergency that requires immediate medical assistance and treatment. People with potentially serious allergies will often be given an adrenaline auto-injector to carry with them at all times. The most common being the EpiPen and can help to stop an anaphylactic reaction becoming life threatening.

Symptoms of Anaphylactic Shock

Anaphylaxis will usually develop suddenly and worsen quickly. Symptoms can include:

  • Feeling faint or lightheaded
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Wheezing
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Clammy skin
  • Confusion and anxiety
  • Collapsing or loss of consciousness

Other allergy symptoms may also be present such as nausea, hives, swelling and stomach pain. If the person’s breathing or heart stops, CPR should be administered right away. Find out more about how to perform CPR here.

What to do if someone experiences an Anaphylactic Shock

It is important to act quickly when it comes to treating anaphylaxis as it is a serious and life-threatening emergency. If someone has symptoms of anaphylaxis, you should:

  1. Call 999 for an ambulance straightaway, mentioning that it is for suspected anaphylaxis.
  2. Remove the trigger if it is possible to do so, if it is a sting stuck in the skin for example.
  3. Lie the person down flat unless they are unconscious, pregnant or having breathing difficulties.
  4. Use an adrenaline auto-injector if the person has one.
  5. Give another injection after 5-15 minutes if the symptoms do not improve and if there is another auto-injector available.

If you are the person that is experiencing anaphylaxis, and there is no one else around you should follow the above steps if possible.

You will need to be taken to hospital for observation following an anaphylactic shock where they may carry out blood tests and give oxygen and possibly antihistamines.

Prevent Anaphylaxis

If you have a serious allergy or have experienced anaphylaxis before, it is important to prevent future episodes.

Avoiding known triggers whenever possible may be difficult but this is essential for preventing anaphylaxis. Ensure to carry your adrenaline auto-injector at all times to give yourself an injection if you think you may be experiencing anaphylaxis, even if you are completely unsure.

If you have any questions about anaphylactic shock, do not hesitate to get in touch. You can tweet us at @imptraining