Anaphylaxis (allergic reaction) happens when the immune system – the body's natural defence system – overreacts to something.
This could be because of an allergy and can be identified through symptoms including swelling, redness and rashes. Common allergies include:
- Foods – including nuts, milk, fish, shellfish, eggs and some fruits
- Medicines – including some antibiotics and certain drugs such as Asprin
- Insect stings– particularly wasp and bee stings
- General anaesthetic
- Chemicals such as hair dye
In some cases, there’s no obvious trigger.
If your child has a serious allergy or has experienced an allergic reaction before, it’s important to take steps to prevent it happening again:
- See if you can identify any triggers – your child may be referred to an allergy clinic for tests to check for anything that could trigger allergic reaction
- Avoid these triggers whenever possible – for example, by being careful when food shopping or eating out if your child has a food allergy, or by ensuring they wear long sleeves if insect stings are a problem
People with potentially serious allergies will often be given an adrenaline auto-injector to carry at all times. This can help stop an allergic reaction becoming life threatening.
It should be used as soon as a serious reaction is suspected, either by the person experiencing anaphylaxis or someone helping them.
If you have been given an auto-injector for your child, make sure you know how to use it correctly and always carry it. Don’t be afraid to use it whenever you think your child may be having an allergic reaction, even if you’re not completely sure as this will not harm your child.
There are two main types of adrenaline auto-injector, which are used in slightly different ways. These are:
If your child suffers from an allergy, it’s important to tell your child’s public health nurse. Your child will have a personal care plan given to them by their doctor and it’s important that the school has a copy of this.
The school will not be able to use the auto-injector without a care plan in place.