Allergic reactions can be sometimes more than a minor inconvenience and discomfort, on the other hand they can be life threatening. Anaphylaxis can cause real shock, a sudden and severe drop in blood pressure and difficulty in breathing. This can occur within minutes of someone being exposed to a specific substance . . . an allergen. Sometimes this could even happen without any trigger being apparent, a delayed reaction which appears to be out of the blue.
If someone appears to be suffering from anaphylaxis during a disaster then it’s important that you react immediately. If left untreated, anaphylaxis can cause death within only half an hour.
- Try to call 911 or a local medical number – or get someone else to try and keep on trying if possible.
- Find out whether the person has an epinephrine autoinjector like Twinject or EpiPen . . . if so, do they need help in using it? It’s usually administered by pressing the device against the thigh of the person.
- Make sure that the person is lying still on his/her back.
- Loosen any tight clothing and cover them over with a blanket or whatever is to hand.
- Do not allow the person to have anything to drink.
- If there are signs of bleeding from the mouth, or the person starts to vomit turn them immediately onto their side in order to prevent choking.
- If there are no signs of breathing then begin CPR.
- Even if the symptoms begin to abate and the person shows signs of improvement it’s important that they still get emergency medical treatment as soon as possible.
Signs of Anaphylaxis
If you are with members of your family when someone suffers anaphylaxis then you’ll probably be fully aware of what to look out for and how to treat them, but disasters also happen in the company of strangers! How do you know if someone has the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis?
- Skin reactions are often present, itching, hives, skin may appear flushed or very pale
- Swelling around the face, lips, throat, eyes etc
- Wheezing and trouble with breathing due to constriction of the airways
- Pulse may be weak and/or rapid
- Diarrhea, vomiting, nausea
- Fainting, may become unconscious