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(NC)-Food allergies are becoming more prevalent every day. Severe reactions can be life threatening if not treated immediately. In many cases, a dangerous breathing condition called anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-lak-sis) can result when a substance to which the casualty is very sensitive enters the body.
Anaphylaxis can happen within seconds, minutes or even hours of a substance entering the body. As a rule, the sooner the casualty’s body reacts, the worse the reaction will be.
St. John Ambulance, Canada’s leader in safety-oriented™ first aid training and products, advises that you can detect anaphylaxis and help the casualty, if you know what to do.
Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis
Itchy, flushed skin, raised skin rash (hives).
Sneezing, running nose and watery eyes.
Swelling of the airway.
A ‘lump’ or ‘tickle’ in the throat that won’t go away.
Sense of impending doom.
Nausea and vomiting.
As the condition worsens, a casualty may experience:
Anxiety and/or a severe headache.
Wheezing and breathing difficulties, coughing.
Irregular and rapid pulse.
Swelling of lips, tongue, throat, hands and feet.
Unconsciousness followed by stopped breathing and heart.
First aid for a severe allergic reaction
When a casualty experiences a severe allergic reaction, they are in a life-threatening situation.
Assess the individual and immediately call for medical help.
Stop any activity and place the casualty in the most comfortable position for breathing – usually sitting upright.
Some people with known allergies carry medication in the event of an attack. If the individual has prescribed medicine with them, help them take a correct dosage.
Stay with the casualty until medical help takes over. Monitor vital signs and try to calm and reassure the casualty, as fear and anxiety will make the condition worse.
Knowing what to do can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency. St. John Ambulance offers a wide range of programs, customized for all walks of life and skill levels. Learn what you need to know from Canada’s leader in first aid for more than 118 years. Contact the St. John Ambulance office nearest you or look us up on the Internet at http://www.sja.ca.