First aid administered when an individual is going through a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis, can prove to be life saving. Allergic reactions can occur due to various reasons, and can strike without any prior warning. The reaction can be triggered by insect sting or bite, or even a small amount of allergic substance in their food, water or the surrounding air.
Although most of the allergic reactions aren't life threatening, a small percent of them can prove to be dangerous. Anaphylxis symptoms generally include, severe swelling of lips or eyes and breaking out in hives. There might also be swelling in the inside of the throat, even to the extent of causing shock or difficulty in breathing. Mental confusion, dizziness, abdominal cramping, vomiting, nausea may also come with anaphylaxis.
In case the person knows that they have an allergy, which can result in a life threatening condition, they should carry antihistamines or EpiPen (injectable epinephrine) with them. Make sure you first ask them if they have either of them if they are going through the symptoms. Although EpiPen works fairly quickly, its effects are not long lasting but only temporary. Therefore, it's necessary to follow it up with antihistamines. If they are carrying these with them, just follow the directions given and use them.
The next thing you should do is, call 911 right away for proper assistance or to immediately transport the person to the nearest hospital. Until professional medical help arrives, have them lie down quietly, and if it's possible have their legs elevated a bit more higher than their feet. Keep them under your observation and have a close eye, and in case they vomit, move them slowly to their side.
It's important to keep in mind that an individual will not be prepared if they have never gone through such a reaction before. In such a scenario, first call 911 before doing anything. The medical response team or the ambulance will have the needed equipment with them to begin the treatment.
Then, the person needs to lie down with the head tilting back in order to keep their airway passage open. If there's any over-the-counter antihistamine such as Chlortrimeton or Benadryl available with you, give them one immediately if they are able to swallow. If swallowing is proving to be a problem, open the capsule or crush the tablet and insert the powder under their tongue. Even though this isn't that effective, it may slow down the anaphylaxis until help arrives, since their body is still able to absorb or take in some of the antihistamine.
While you wait for assistance, try to keep them still and quiet and covered with a warm blanket, with their feet slightly raised. This should help in alleviating any major threats to their life.
The steps we discussed in this article have proven to be helpful in such critical situations. It's important to avoid any major danger by taking charge and making yourself aware of what exactly needs to be done.