How to care for someone suffering from a severe allergic reaction?

If your friend or a family member has been recently diagnosed with allergic reactions, you may be wondering how you can take care of them.

The article helps you understand allergic reactions and tips on helping others with the problem. So, let’s dive in!

What are allergies, and what does it look like?

Allergic reactions are sensitivities to an allergen or a foreign substance that contact skin, eyes, nose, gastrointestinal tract, and respiratory tract. The immune system is responsible for protecting the body from bacteria and viruses. In some cases, the allergens are identified as harmful (even when they are not) by the immune system, and it causes an allergic reaction as soon it comes in contact with the body. The severity of allergies varies from person to person and can range from minor irritation to anaphylaxis (a life-threatening emergency).

Most allergies cannot be cured; however, various treatment options can help relieve your allergy symptoms. 

Causes of different types of allergies: 

When an allergen (a substance that causes an allergic reaction) comes in contact with your body, it causes the release of histamine and other natural chemicals in the body. Allergy is a common reaction that occurs due to these allergens. The reason why allergies develop is not fully understood. 

Many substances can cause allergies, which includes:

  • Medicines 
  • Pollen 
  • Animal dander 
  • Shellfish 
  • Fish
  • Insect bites 
  • Bee stings
  • Eggs 
  • Milk 
  • Other food items 
  • Latex
  • Other substances 

Risk factors: 

A person will be more likely to develop an allergy if: 

  • Anyone in the family has a history of allergies or asthma 
  • You have asthma 
  • You have hay fever 
  • You have hives 
  • You have eczema
  • A child 
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Allergies Symptoms

The symptoms of the allergy depend upon the foreign substance involved. Allergic reactions can range from mild to severe. The symptoms may get worse if the allergen repeatedly comes in contact. The symptoms include:

  • Itching 
  • Hives or itchy red spots 
  • Watery eyes 
  • Itchy eyes 
  • Rash 
  • Allergic rhinitis (symptoms include sneezing or nasal congestion) 
  • Scratchy throat 

In case of a severe allergic reaction, the symptoms include: 

  • Diarrhea 
  • Difficulty in breathing 
  • Difficulty in swallowing 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Wheezing 
  • Anxiety 
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Chest pain or tightness in the chest 
  • Weakness
  • Flushing of face
  • Unconsciousness 
  • Swelling of tongue, eyes, or face 
  • Vertigo 

In case of anaphylaxis (a life-threatening reaction), symptoms include:

  • A severe sudden drop in blood pressure 
  • Swelling of the airways 
  • Inability to breathe 

If someone is experiencing anaphylaxis, immediately seek a medical emergency. If not treated, anaphylaxis can result in death. 

How can you help treat someone with an allergic reaction

If you are with a person who is having a severe allergic reaction, you should do the following: 

  • Call for medical emergency immediately 
  • If epinephrine is available, administer it 
  • Lay the person flat – do not allow them to walk or stand 
  • Try to keep the person calm
  • Raise their feet about 12 inches and cover them with a blanket 
  • Make sure their clothing is loose so that breathing is easy 
  • Turn them on their side if a person is vomiting or bleeding 
  • If the person has known allergy or asthma, provide the asthma puffer 
  • If the person is not breathing, moving, or coughing, you may need to perform CPR 

Allergies Treatment and Medication

Various treatment options are available to treat an allergic reaction; they include: 

  • Identification and avoiding allergen: Your physician will help you identify the allergen causing the allergic reaction. Once it is identified, your doctor will help you take the steps that help to avoid the allergen. The most crucial step is the identification and preventing the allergic reaction and reducing its symptoms 
  • Immunotherapy: The physician may prescribe immunotherapy for severe allergies or allergies not entirely treated by other treatments. The treatment involves administering several injections of purified allergen, usually administered over a while. Another treatment involves the administration of an oral tablet, which is to be placed under the tongue until the medication dissolves, such type of treatment is used in treating pollen allergies 
  • Medications: Depending upon the allergies, medications can help to neutralize immune system reactions and reduce the symptoms. Physicians may prescribe various antihistaminics, decongestants, lotions, creams, steroids, or a combination of them. These medications help in reducing the symptoms of allergic reactions. 
  • Emergency epinephrine: In case of severe allergies, the physician may prescribe epinephrine shots, which must be kept handy. An emergency shot can be administered in case of severe allergic reactions, which reduces the symptoms until you get appropriate treatment 
  • Treatment for anaphylaxis: If you feel the person is suffering from anaphylaxis, you should immediately get medical help. Check if the person is breathing, moving, or coughing. Provide emergency CPR if required. Inject them with an epinephrine shot as a rescue medication as it helps raise the blood pressure and open airways. 
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Other precautions for them and you

Knowing allergens and using an auto-injector can help save a person’s life if they face a severe allergic reaction. Always keep the first-aid available and seek immediate medical care in cases of an emergency.


Recommended reading for you

  1. Asthma and Allergy(Opens in a new browser tab)
  2. Allergy(Opens in a new browser tab)
  3. Urticaria: Types & Treatment with Cetirizine Allergy Medicine(Opens in a new browser tab)
  4. COVID and Diabetes: Everything you should know(Opens in a new browser tab)


References:

  1. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/allergies/symptoms/
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/allergic-reaction#treatment
  3. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000005.htm
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/allergies/symptoms-causes/syc-20351497
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/allergic-reaction-treatment
  6. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/allergic-reactions-emergency-first-aid
  7. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/allergies/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351503
  8. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/allergies/treatment/

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