Anaphylaxis: The Four As

Awareness, Allergic signs & symptoms, Adrenaline, Action

Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It usually comes on within minutes of being exposed to the ‘allergen’ (the substance responsible for the allergic reaction) but it may take longer for symptoms to develop.

Signs of an allergic reaction usually occur within minutes of being exposed to an allergen but can appear up to two hours after exposure. Mild to moderate allergic symptoms can be treated with antihistamine medication but should be considered as possible ‘early warning signs’ as mild reactions can quickly develop into more severe allergic reactions.

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 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.

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