1 in 50 people experience anaphylaxis. Everyone should be aware of what anaphylaxis is and what to do if they are with someone experiencing it. Someone who experienced mild anaphylaxis symptoms in the past can experience a severe reaction the next time. Knowing what anaphylaxis is and what to do in the situation can help save a life.
What is Anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that occurs within seconds to minutes of being exposed. The severe allergic reaction can cause the individual to go into shock, have a rapid or weak pulse and have nausea. Common severe allergies include food such as peanuts, venom such as bee stings, medications, latex or certain vaccines. Epinephrine (EPI) is the first line of treatment when anaphylaxis occurs.
What is Epinephrine?
EPI is a form of adrenaline that when injected into a muscle increases your heartrate and relaxes the muscles in the airways. When signs of anaphylaxis appear the auto-injector should be used immediately to stop the progression of anaphylaxis. Those who carry auto-injectors should carry at least two as many victims need more than one injection. After the first injection the next line of defense is to call 9-1-1 for medical assistance.
Who Should be Trained in EPI?
One in 12 children are likely to have food allergies so it is recommended that those who are frequently around children or those who work in food services be trained in EPI. They should always be prepared with an EPI when students are inside with food or outside around bees, as these are the two most common causes for anaphylaxis. Additionally, doctors who care for at-risk patients should be trained in EPI too.
About the Anaphylaxis and Epinephrine Auto-Injector Online Course
If you need to be trained in EPI or want to learn more about anaphylaxis and EPI, the American Red Cross provides an online anaphylaxis and epinephrine course to teach:
- Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis
- How to care for someone having a severe allergic reaction
- How to administer epinephrine using an auto-injector
The course takes 30 minutes to complete and includes videos, activities and a learning assessment.