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Chapter 19: First Aid- Allergy Emergencies

Defined:

When a person has an allergy, he or she experiences an immune response to a substance that is usually not harmful. An allergy emergency may occur if a person is exposed to this allergen. An allergic reaction may become severe if not treated in a timely manner.

Causes:

People may be allergic to a variety of different things such as:

  • Animals (i.e., cats, dogs)
  • Ant bites
  • Bee stings
  • Chocolate
  • Eggs
  • Medication (i.e., penicillin)
  • Peanuts
  • Pollen, dust, mold
  • Specific plants / chemicals in plants
  • Wasp stings
Signs and Symptoms:
  • Itchy skin
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea (stomach pain)
  • Rash, hives, redness
  • Signs of shock
  • Stuffy nose, sneezing
  • Swelling of the tongue and face
  • Troubled breathing
Common Emergency Example(s):
Anaphylaxis:

This is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction. It occurs suddenly, and within seconds or minutes after contact with the allergen.

A reaction of troubled breathing can cause obstructions in the airway and even lead to shock. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical treatment, including the epinephrine injection and a trip to the hospital.

First Aid Actions / Treatment Steps:

  1. Assess the scene and check for your safety.
  2. Activate EMS (Call 9-1-1).
  3. Get a First Aid kit if available.
  4. Many people that have an allergy carry an epinephrine pen. If the person responds, and has an epinephrine pen, help him get it. The person should know how to use it and can administer himself if necessary. If you are allowed to use an epinephrine pen, ask for consent and administer the injection.
  5. Rub the spot for 10 seconds, dispose of the injection properly and record what time the shot was given.
  6. If necessary, provide CPR. If you do not know how, give Hands-Only CPR.