Allergic Reactions and Anaphylaxis

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We are now going to take a look at allergic reactions and anaphylaxis. Minor allergic reactions are usually not life-threatening. They can be things like local reactions to a sting or reactions to foods that do not cause a serious respiratory reaction. Treatments include antihistamine creams or treating the symptoms of stomach upset.

Someone who suffers from anaphylaxis could be allergic to bee and wasp stings, foodstuffs or peanuts and the reaction they will get will be very severe. For example, if someone has a peanut allergy, and they eat something that contains peanuts, even a very small amount, their throat could start swelling within minutes, restricting breathing and turning their face red. This is a serious medical condition called anaphylaxis and we need to call the emergency services straight away.

If the patient completed a medical form when they registered at the club, they should have declared their anaphylaxis, but this may not be the case, or you may be treating a visitor so you need to be able to recognise an anaphylactic reaction. If someone does suffer from anaphylaxis, the important thing you need to do it to get them their auto-injector and call the EMS.

The auto-injector will give them a measured dose of adrenaline. Once they have had this adrenaline, they will start to feel better very quickly, but it's still a 999 emergency. The general rules with somebody with anaphylaxis would be to sit them down if they are feeling sick or lay them down if they are feeling dizzy. If they are in a seated position or laying down, they can inject themselves and in most cases, the patient would always do this.

There are three main types of auto-injector on the market. The Jext, the EpiPen, and the Emerade and there are different sizes depending on the weight of the patient. They all deliver the same drug, are all placed in the thigh, however, they are used in slightly different ways.

With the Jext auto-injector, you remove the cap and place it against the thigh and then push. Pushing it onto the leg will fire the unit to deliver the drug and you then leave it in for 10 seconds before removing it and rubbing the area for 10 seconds.

The Emerade works in a very similar way. You remove the cap, place it on the thigh, push the button to fire it, and then leave it in for 5 seconds before removing it and rubbing the area. Always give the auto-injector to the paramedics if it has been used.

The EpiPen works slightly differently. You remove the cap and instead of putting it on the leg, you actually swing it into the leg. With one swinging action, the drug is fired. You leave it in for 3 seconds and there is no need to then rub the area.

Once the auto-injector has been used, the needle is automatically covered but keep it safe and give it to the ambulance crew so they know what has been given. Some people will require a second auto-injector if the symptoms do not improve.