Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction. While mild allergic reactions are localized, anaphylaxis is a body-wide reaction and it can cause system-wide inflammation and swelling. In some cases, the air passages swell, making it difficult to breathe. It is important to act

quickly when a person is experiencing anaphylaxis, as it can lead to death if it is not cared for immediately.

Common Causes

Anything that causes other allergic reactions can also cause anaphylaxis, and the causes vary from one person to another. The most common allergens that trigger anaphylaxis include:

  • Insect stings

  • Food

  • Medications


The following steps may help to prevent an anaphylactic incident:

  • Avoid the substances, foods, or insects that cause reactions.

  • Wear a medical identification product and carry the appropriate medication at all times.

What to look for

The signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis may be similar to the signs and symptoms of a mild allergic reaction, but they are more pronounced. A person experiencing an anaphylactic emergency may develop one or more signs and symptoms within seconds or minutes of coming into contact with the allergen.

Anaphylaxis can affect a variety of body systems and can present in various ways. If a person exhibits signs and symptoms from two or more of these categories—especially after contact with an allergen—you should provide care for anaphylaxis:

  • Skin (e.g., swelling of the lips, face, neck, ears, and/or hands, a raised, itchy, blotchy rash, flushing, or hives)

  • Breathing (e.g., a feeling of tightness in the chest or throat, coughing, wheezing, or high-pitched noises)

  • Alertness (e.g., weakness, dizziness, or unresponsiveness)

  • Stomach (e.g., stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea)

What to do

  • If the person has an epinephrine auto-injector, help him or her to use it.

  • Provide reassurance and encourage the person to breathe normally.

  • Help the person get into a comfortable position.

If the person’s condition does not improve 5 minutes after the initial dose of epinephrine and EMS personnel have not yet arrived, help the person take a second dose, if available. The second dose should be given in the leg that you did not use for the first dose.

If responsive, the person may want to take additional medication such as an antihistamine.

It’s Monday at 5:10am, I was on my way to the gym for my jolt of morning wake up.

As I drive over, I see what looks to be an accident. I naturally slow down to pass it safely. As I get closer my spidy sense is tingling and for good reason.

A car had struck a pedestrian.

My EMR Training kicked in. Immediately, I pull the car over, make sure it is safe for me to exit my vehicle and make my way over. I don’t have any equipment with me and I’m in gym shorts and a T-shirt...

The driver of the vehicle is there apologizing to the struck pedestrian, a bystander is waving traffic away and time slows down a little.

The pedestrian is conscious and responsive, she is complaining of shoulder pain. She is trying to get up. The driver is standing over her and constantly asking her is she is ok and apologizing for not seeing her.

Could she have sat up? Likely, but upon seeing vomit on the ground next to her I asked her to stay down and stay still. A bystander who had tried several times to call 911 without getting through had gotten through finally just before I arrived and Paramedics were on their way. The bystander was mad at himself for mis-dialing the first few times.

EMS and the fire department arrived and took over, clearly the quick actions of all bystanders and the driver aided in getting the pedestrian the care she needed in a timely manor, but it was clear that all of us were in various states of “shock”.

Shock can be life threatening, therefore, we must treat everyone for shock.

A person who is ill or injured may go into shock. Shock happens when the vital organs do not get enough oxygen-rich blood. Shock is a life-threatening condition.

Be on the lookout for shock when providing care for any injury or sudden illness, or when someone has been involved in a serious incident (even if he or she is not badly injured). Shock is often caused by significant fluid loss, for example, diarrhea and vomiting. This is especially true in children, who can become dehydrated more easily.

Other causes of shock include the following:

• Significant blood loss

• Heart damage

• Extensive burns

• Infection

• Anaphylaxis

• Severe infection (e.g., septicemia)

What to Look For

The following are signs and symptoms of shock:

• Anxiety

• Cool, clammy skin

• Skin that is paler than normal

• Weakness

• Confusion

• Excessive thirst

• Rapid breathing

• Drowsiness or loss of responsiveness

• Nausea and vomiting

What to Do

The best thing you can do when a person is in shock is to call EMS/9-1-1. While you are waiting for EMS personnel to arrive, provide care (W.A.R.T.S.) by:

W: Keep the person warm

A: Monitor the persons ABC’s

R: Have the person rest and reassure them

T: Provide care for the cause of the shock

S: If needed place the person semi-prone (Recovery position)

This article previously appeared on Written by Winnie Yu.

Don’t mistake choking as a hazard just for the toddler set. Truth is, anyone can choke, even adults who have been eating solid food for six decades. According to the National Safety Council, choking is the third leading cause of death in American homes, with food being the primary culprit.

“You can really choke on anything,” says Joan Salge Blake, a clinical associate professor of nutrition at Boston University and media spokesperson for the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “You have to be sure you chew properly and not swallow in big gulps. It’s also important to have fluids on hand, so you can swallow and move things along.”

Alcohol increases your risk. When you drink, make sure to keep your alcohol intake to a minimum, says Dr. Sharon A. Brangman, professor of medicine and division chief of geriatric medicine in at Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, N.Y.  “Drinking alcohol can reduce your judgment and increase your choking risk,” she says. “Talking while you’re eating also raises your risk.”

Since the way you eat your food has as much to do with your odds of choking as what you eat, it’s important to pay attention to both your habits and your food choices. Here are the scenarios that can put you at risk for choking and the foods most likely to trip you up:

Noshing by the Handful

It’s easy to grab that fistful of buttery popcorn at the movies or that scoop of nuts at the party, especially when you’re hungry. But putting too much food into your mouth at once can up the odds of choking. “Foods that people tend to eat by the handful can easily get overloaded in the mouth and aspirated,” Brangman says. Common culprits include nuts, popcorn and grapes.

A Matter of Size

Some foods are problematic because of their size. Foods with small diameters that fit easily into the windpipe can create a plug, which will block airflow, Brangman says. Foods that can easily get lodged in your throat include hot dogs, grapes and carrots and require careful attention to chewing. 

Texture Troubles

Certain textures in food can be hazardous, especially if they’re chewy, dry or viscous. Edibles with these kinds of textures don’t go down easily and may require small bites and extra fluids. Some of the most texturally challenging foods include bagels, peanut butter, overcooked chicken and thick Dutch pretzels.

Big Bites

It’s tempting to eat hearty bites of certain foods, especially when you’re tired and hungry, and the food looks and smells delicious. “I once read that many men try to eat steak about the size of a pack of cigarettes,” Brangman says. But don’t take in more than you can chew. Foods that often garner a big bite include steaks and stacked sandwich.

What to Do If You Choke When You're Alone

Let's say you take all precautions, and you still find yourself choking and in a panic. In that case, there are a few different steps you can take.

In an article for, Dr. Travis Stork, an ER physician cohost of TV's The Doctors and the author of The Lean Belly Prescription, says your first line of defense is coughing, something your body does automatically when your airway becomes blocked.

Another strategy is to call attention to your plight by making whatever ruckus you can — it's possible someone will hear and come to your aid.

The Mayo Clinic and most health professionals, including Stork, recommend self-administering Abdominal Thrusts:

  • You can lean over a table edge, chair, or railing. Quickly thrust your upper belly area (upper abdomen) against the edge.

For the care steps for Choking follow this link:

NOTE: The information provided above is not a substitute for first aid and CPR/AED training – get trained today and get empowered.

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