Allergic Reaction: Emergency - First Aid

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Allergic Reaction: Emergency - First Aid
Allergic Reaction: Emergency - First Aid

Video: Allergic Reaction: Emergency - First Aid

Video: Allergic Reaction: Emergency - First Aid
Video: First Aid Tip for Severe Allergic Reaction or Anaphylactic Shock 2023, March

Emergency: allergic reaction

An allergic reaction occurs because the body's immune system identifies harmless substances as foreign substances and attacks them. There are many different triggers for allergic reactions, the most common of which include pollen, animal hair and food ingredients.

Allergic reactions are always very unpleasant for the person concerned. If they are limited to a small area of the body, they are usually harmless. It becomes dangerous when several organ systems are affected by the excessive immune response, which is called anaphylaxis. Such a situation can quickly become life-threatening and requires quick action.


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  • How is an allergic reaction expressed?
  • How can I provide first aid?
  • Things to know about the allergic reaction

An insect venom allergy is an example of how dangerous allergic reactions can be: Especially in the summer months, there are even fatalities.

How is an allergic reaction expressed?

Typical symptoms of an allergic reaction are, for example, skin swelling or reddening, itching, a runny nose and watery eyes. However, this does not always have to be a threatening situation. A dangerous allergic reaction is present if the symptoms worsen significantly within a very short time. The blood pressure can drop sharply, lead to reduced blood flow to vital organs and thus to what is known as an allergic shock (anaphylactic shock).

Using the example of insect venom allergy, a distinction can be made between:

  • Slight local reaction: the size of the swelling is less than ten centimeters. Even if local allergic mechanisms are involved in a local reaction, we do not speak of an allergy in the true sense of the word.
  • Increased local reaction: the swelling is larger than ten centimeters and lasts for at least 24 hours. Around 20 percent of people have an increased local reaction after a bee or wasp sting. The swelling can affect the whole arm or leg and may even be accompanied by swelling of the lymph glands or fever. The swelling can be painful and last for several days. An increased local reaction, especially in the facial area, is dangerous. The swelling can be so massive that it obstructs the airway.

Whole-body reactions: An insect venom allergy causes symptoms that affect the whole body immediately after the bite. The first symptoms usually appear a few minutes after the bite and range from skin symptoms (itching, redness, nettle rash) to swelling in the area of the eyes and lips. Nausea, abdominal pain, shortness of breath and dizziness can also occur. The most severe form of an allergic reaction - the so-called allergic shock - leads to a drop in blood pressure, loss of consciousness, shortness of breath and circulatory failure

In addition to insect venom allergy, drugs and food are other common triggers for severe allergic reactions. Even the smallest amounts of the substance in question are often enough to cause a severe allergic reaction.

More on the topic: Allergy: Basic Info

How can I provide first aid?

If you observe or suspect a severe allergic reaction in someone (sudden shortness of breath, dizziness, nausea, vomiting), call 144 immediately. If you have a known insect venom allergy, call the emergency number immediately after a corresponding insect bite, even if there are no complaints (yet)!

The person concerned is conscious

  • If you know and see the trigger of the allergic reaction, remove it! (e.g. removing a bee sting)
  • Pay particular attention to symptoms in the area of the respiratory tract: Is the person affected getting enough air?
  • Calm the person down and try to keep calm yourself.
  • Encourage the person affected to breathe slowly and deeply.
  • Sit the victim with their upper body raised so that they can support themselves with their arms.
  • If there is swelling, wrap ice in a cloth and place it on the affected area. If the swelling is in the mouth or throat, sucking ice cubes or ice cream will help.
  • Ask the person whether they have any known allergies and whether they have emergency medication (e.g. Epipen®) with them. If so, help administer them.

The person concerned loses consciousness or is unconscious

  • Check awareness: speak and shake gently
  • Call out loud for help: Make bystanders aware of the emergency situation!
  • Check breathing: overstretch head, “hear, see, feel” for max. ten seconds:

    • Normal breathing is present: Bring the person affected into a stable lateral position. Check your breathing again and again until the emergency services arrive!
    • Breathing abnormally: start resuscitation immediately; 30x chest compressions, 2x ventilation.

More on the subject: first aid measures

Things to know about the allergic reaction

There are various factors that worsen an allergic reaction, such as physical strain, medication, acute infectious diseases, stress, warm temperatures, alcohol consumption and hormonal factors.

Allergic reactions all over the body are divided into four degrees of severity:

  • Slight general reaction : skin reactions all over the body (urticaria, redness, mucous membrane reactions, restlessness, nausea, headache).
  • Pronounced general reaction : mild drop in blood pressure, shortness of breath, urge to stool and urinate.
  • Threatening general reaction: shock, swelling and narrowing of the airways, dyspnoea, marked drop in blood pressure, clouding of consciousness.
  • Organ failure: cardiac arrest.

If an insect venom or food allergy is suspected, testing should be carried out in an allergy ambulatory. Vaccination is possible for some patients. In addition, those allergic to insect venom should always have an emergency medication set with them.

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