Information for Parents / Carers


What is Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a severe form of allergic reaction, triggered by food (commonly milk, nuts, fish or eggs), insect venom, animals or medication. Sometimes the trigger is not clear.

It is important to be able to recognise it as it can be life threatening and requires immediate treatment.

Why does anaphylaxis occur?

Any allergic reaction, including anaphylaxis occurs because the body’s immune system reacts inappropriately to a substance that it wrongly thinks is a threat.

What symptoms suggest anaphylaxis?

These are the symptoms to look out for. They usually come on very quickly, i.e. within a few minutes:

• Swelling of the lips, tongue, throat or eyelids.

• Severe wheezing, difficulty breathing or difficulty speaking, crying or swallowing.

• Looking pale.

• Fainting or feeling faint.

• Feeling unusually terrified.

• Vomiting or experiencing abdominal pain.

• Very itchy, raised blotchy red rash (urticaria or“hives”).

What should I do if my child has anaphylaxis in the future?

The treatment for anaphylaxis is adrenaline.

You will have been given two adrenaline pre-loaded injection kits (called EpiPens) and shown how to use them before discharge home. You will also be given a written management plan for your child. This should be followed should your child have an anaphylaxis reaction.

Show your family and friends how to use the EpiPen®. The EpiPen® is designed to be used easily by people without medical training.

Your child should always have their EpiPen® on them. One should be given to the school. Regularly make sure these are within the expiry date, and see your GP if you need another prescription.

If your child has symptoms of anaphylaxis, you should use your child’s EpiPen® as soon as anaphylaxis is suspected. If you are not sure whether to use the EpiPen®, the general advice is to use it. For most children, adrenaline is a safe drug.

Lie your child down flat.

Remove anything you think might be triggering the reaction, if possible.

Use the EpiPen® to administer a dose of adrenaline as per instructions on the next page.

How to use an EpiPen®?

1 Pull off Blue Safety Cap.

Grasp EpiPen® in dominant hand, with thumb nearest blue cap and form fist around EpiPen® and pull off the blue safety cap.

Remember: “Blue to the sky, orange to the thigh”.

2 Position Orange Tip

Hold the EpiPen® at a distance of approximately 10cm away from the outer thigh. The orange tip should point towards the outer thigh.

3 Jab Orange Tip

Jab the EpiPen® firmly into outer thigh at a right angle (90º angle). Hold firmly against thigh for 3 seconds.

EpiPen® should be removed and safely discarded. The orange needle cover will extend to cover the needle.

4 Dial 999

Dial 999, ask for an ambulance and state “anaphylaxis”.

Give another injection after 5-10 minutes if the symptoms do not improve and a second auto-injector is available.

Anaphylaxis Prevention

To minimise the risk of your child having another anaphylactic reaction ensure that:

• Your child, the family, and any caregivers are aware of triggers and what to do if they have an anaphylactic reaction.

• Your child knows to refuse foods containing triggers or foods with unknown contents.

• Your child’s school and any caregivers are aware of triggers,

EpiPen® location and correct EpiPen® use.

Biphasic Reactions

Very rarely, a second anaphylactic reaction can occur after the first has resolved. It normally happens within the first 6hours, but can happen up to 72 hours (3 days) later.

To minimise the risk of a second reaction:

• Always carry your child’s EpiPen® with you.

• Always go to hospital or call an ambulance even if the

EpiPen® provides symptom relief.

• Replace the EpiPen® as soon as possible after use.

• If discharged from hospital, monitor your child for symptoms of anaphylaxis for the next 3 days. If your child is well, they can resume normal activities but let your child’s school/carers know.

Published on:
October 31, 2023

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