Anaphylaxis Symptoms and Action Sheet

Anaphylaxis (pronounced ana- fill – axis) is a medical emergency, common causes of anaphylaxis include food, wasp/bee venom (stings) and medication. Recognising the signs and symptoms early and treating quickly with the medicine ‘adrenaline’ is vital to save life.


Signs of a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) include one or more of the following symptoms:

Airway: Swollen tongue • Difficulty swallowing • Throat tightness • Change in voice (hoarse/croaky)

Breathing: Difficulty breathing • Chest tightness • Noisy breathing • Persistent cough • Wheeze

Circulation: Feeling dizzy or faint • Collapse • Loss of consciousness • Pale and floppy (in babies/small children)

Related Resources

This actionsheet has been written to provide information on severe allergic reactions.

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Give Adrenaline – If you suspect someone is having a severe allergic reaction, give adrenaline WITHOUT DELAY – if available. IF IN DOUBT, GIVE ADRENALINE!


Lie the person flat with legs raised, if breathing is difficult allow to sit with legs raised. Do not stand the person up!

Call for help

Dial 999 for an ambulance and state anaphylaxis (ana -fill- axis) to get medical help as soon as possible.


Stay with the person having the allergic reaction until medical help arrives.

If there is no improvement after five minutes and another adrenaline autoinjector (AAI) is available, a second dose of adrenaline can be given ideally in the other leg.

If a person has an allergic reaction that requires adrenaline, they should always go to hospital for further observation and treatment e.g. additional doses of adrenaline.


Adrenaline is an emergency medicine used to treat a severe allergic reaction. It works quickly to reverse the symptoms of anaphylaxis by reducing swelling, opening up the airway and improving blood pressure.

Antihistamines should never be taken instead of adrenaline in the case of a severe allergic reaction. If asthma and symptoms of a severe allergic reaction occur at the same time then adrenaline should always be given first and the asthma relief inhaler afterwards.

AAIs are prescribed by a doctor for those at risk of a severe allergic reaction based on an individual’s needs. They are designed to be user-friendly and to be used by anyone that has been trained

It is important to know how to use the type of AAI you have been prescribed.

How to use your Adrenaline Autoinjector device