You have been diagnosed with a serious allergic reaction known as anaphylactic shock or anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis happens within minutes of exposure to an allergen. Common causes are penicillin, nuts, intravenous (IV) contrast dyes used for some X-rays and scans, a bee sting, or latex products. In anaphylaxis:
Blood pressure drops suddenly
Less oxygen reaches your brain and other organs, and your body goes into shock
An itchy red rash called hives may appear
If not treated quickly, anaphylactic shock can cause death.
Tips for home care include the following:
Ask your healthcare provider about carrying an EpiPen. This is a single-dose injection of epinephrine (adrenaline). With the kit you can give yourself a shot of medicine that will help to stop the allergic reaction until you can get medical help.
Learn how to give yourself an epinephrine shot so that you are prepared. EpiPens come with instructions, but you can also ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
Make sure you always have more than one EpiPen. Carry one kit with you. Keep others where they are easy to find, for example, at your work desk, or in a gym or tote bag.
Check the expiration date of your EpiPens regularly.
Avoid the things that cause your allergic reaction whenever possible.
If you have a food allergy, always ask about ingredients when eating food prepared by others. At a restaurant, tell your waiter about your food allergies.
Wear a medical identification bracelet with the information about your allergy. Ask your healthcare provider how to get one.
Tell your family, friends, and co-workers what they should do if you have a severe allergic reaction. Include:
How to use the EpiPen. Tell them to give you the shot if you can't.
Your position during a reaction, having you lie down with your legs raised.
Starting CPR if you stop breathing.
Tell all of your healthcare providers about your allergies.
Ask your healthcare provider about allergy shots (immunotherapy).
Make a follow-up appointment with your healthcare provider.
Call 911 right away if you have:
Fainting or loss of consciousness
Trouble breathing or wheezing
Nausea or vomiting
Swelling of your lips, tongue, or throat
Itchy, blotchy skin or hives
Pale, cool, damp skin