Anaphylaxis Update – new video campaign to save lives

The Anaphylaxis Campaign have launched a hard hitting and incredibly helpful video campaign to help raise awareness of the importance of carrying your medication. Many people (teenagers in particular) fail to routinely carry their adrenaline auto-injectors and this leaves them extremely vulnerable if they have a reaction and could be fatal.

Some people have been prescribed more than one auto-injector and they should carry both in case of an emergency as it will have been deemed that they could need to use both if they had a reaction.

How to Treat Anaphylaxis

The key advice is to avoid any known allergens if at all possible. If someone is having a mild allergic reaction, an antihistamine tablet or syrup can be very effective. However the medication will take at least 15 minutes to work. If you are concerned that the reaction could be systemic (all over) and life threatening, use an adrenaline auto-injector immediately. It is far better to give adrenaline and not to have needed it, than to give it too late. Adrenaline auto-injectors are prescribed for those believed to be at risk of a serious and acute allergic reaction. Adrenaline (also known as epinephrine) acts quickly to constrict blood vessels, relax smooth muscles in the lungs to improve breathing, stimulate the heartbeat and help to stop swelling around the face and lips. Acute Allergic reactions can be life threatening and it is crucially important that you recognise the problem and know what to do quickly in order to save someone’s life. Adrenaline (US name: Epinephrine) is the first choice for an acute anaphylactic reaction and it works best if it is given as soon as you recognise that someone is having a reaction. You should administer the injector, or help the sufferer to administer it themselves, as quickly as possible and call for an ambulance stating clearly that the person is having an acute anaphylactic reaction. Adrenaline should rapidly treat all of the most dangerous symptoms of anaphylaxis, including throat swelling, difficulty breathing, and low blood pressure. However they are likely to need additional medication in hospital to control the reaction. Adrenaline is metabolised very quickly – it is very important that you call an ambulance as soon as an auto-injector has been given as its effects can wear off within about 15 minutes. Another injector can be given 5-15 minutes after the first if necessary. Phone for an ambulance

How to use an Adrenaline Auto-injector

 Types of Auto-injectors: Adrenaline Autoinjectors - Epipen  There are currently 3 makes of Adrenaline Auto-injectors on the market in the UK; Epipen,  Jext and Emerade. They all contain adrenaline and are all given in a similar manner. Hold the injector in your dominant hand, with the other hand remove the safety cap. Put the injector firmly into the upper outer part of the casualty’s thigh and hold it there for 10 seconds. Remove it carefully and they should begin to feel better quite quickly. If they continue to get worse, you may need to give another injector. The auto-injector can be given through clothes. Always phone an ambulance.

Patient Positioning for anaphylaxis

Someone suffering from acute anaphylaxis is also likely to be showing signs of clinical shock, which is a dramatic drop in their blood pressure.  Reassuring the casualty and positioning them appropriately can make a major difference to their recovery. They should also be kept warm and dry.

If someone is very short of breath, they should be encouraged to sit, in an upright position to help their breathing, putting something under their knees to help increase their circulation can be very helpful – into the lazy W position.

If the casualty is not having difficulty breathing, but they are feeling sick and dizzy – they should lie down with their legs raised to help increase the circulation to their vital organs. Encourage them to turn their head to one side if they are likely to vomit. They should be covered to keep them warm and kept in this position until the paramedics arrive. Do not get them up until they have been medically assessed.

Treatment for shock, lie down with legs raised

After an anaphylactic reaction: An ambulance should always be called if someone is showing the signs of anaphylaxis and they will usually be admitted overnight for observation. This is because some people have a second reaction some hours after the first. Don’t forget to replace the used adrenaline auto-injector

This information has been provided for guidance only and is not a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life and onlinefirstaid.com is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information. firstaidforlife.org.uk. emma@firstaidforlife.org.uk

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