Millions of people suffer from allergies. They cannot come into contact with allergens like flowers, grass, ragweed, bees, wasps, food and many other seemingly harmless things without sneezing, breaking out in hive or having their eyes water. However, reactions such as these are mild compared to those associated with a severe allergic reaction. Knowing the symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can be vital in saving someone’s life by getting him or her immediate medical help.
One of the hallmark symptoms of a severe allergic reaction that constitutes emergency attention is difficulty breathing. Someone who is having a life-threatening reaction typically suffers respiratory problems like:
- Excessive coughing
- Difficulty drawing breath in and out
- Cessation of breathing
These symptoms typically will not disappear on its own during a severe reaction. The person must receive an injection of epinephrine and go to the emergency room immediately for help.
Respiratory issues are commonly associated with severe allergic reactions. However, many people do not associate digestive problems with a severe allergy. In fact, people who need emergency help after coming into contact with an allergen may vomit, have diarrhea or experience a bad stomach ache.
As with breathing problems, someone who is showing these signs should go to the ER immediately. If that individual has an EpiPen, he or she should use it as well.
Rash, Swelling and Skin Issues
Another tell-tale sign that people are having severe reactions involves the skin. Many individuals develop painful and itchy rashes, bumps or hives. They also may experience swelling of their hands, lips, faces and even eyes.
If they have injectable epinephrine with them, they should immediately use that medication. They should then go to the nearest ER for proper medical help and evaluation.
Dizziness or Loss of Consciousness
A severe reaction may, involve loss of consciousness or overwhelming dizziness. People who have been bitten by mosquitoes, stung by bees, have ingested foods to which they are allergic, smelled scents to which they are sensitive, or somehow came into contact with another known allergen may feel dizzy or even pass out without warning.
Any sign of dizziness or loss of consciousness should prompt people around them to call 911. Allergy sufferers should also go to the emergency room for immediate help.
As people wait for emergency medical help to arrive, it is vital that they know how to help the person suffering the allergic reaction. Being able to act quickly and calmly can be vital to helping the person survive the episode and also put that individual and others around them at ease.
Helping Someone with a Severe Allergic Reaction
When someone around you is suffering a severe reaction to an allergen, you should immediately follow these steps:
- Inject the Person’s Epinephrine If He or She Is Unable to Do So: If the person with the reaction is passed out, having problems breathing, or is incapacitated and unable to inject the medication, you should take over and administer the EpiPen instead.
- Try to Keep the Person Calm: Being unable to breath and feeling dizzy or passing out is frightening. It is important that you remain calm and do your best to keep the person calm until help arrives.
- Remove the Stinger: If the person has been stung by a wasp or bee, you should remove the stinger. Do not use tweezers, but instead use a fingernail or plastic card to scrape the stinger away.
- Do CPR: If the person is not breathing, you should immediately start CPR and keep doing it until paramedics arrive.
People can be allergic to any number of things that others take for granted. These symptoms demonstrate what can happen when people suffer the severest allergic reactions and why such reactions should be considered emergencies.