Some allergies can lead to a severe allergic reaction – known as Anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening.

Symptoms can occur quickly or within hours following contact with an allergen. Prompt treatment can save a life. If you have an adrenaline auto-injector – use it immediately.

Common causes

Common causes of anaphylaxis are wasp and bee stings as well as food, such as peanuts, nuts, sesame seed, fish and shellfish, dairy products, and egg. Other causes include latex, penicillin, and some other medications.

For some, fatigue or exercise may cause anaphylaxis – alone or in combination with other triggers like food or medication. Cold can also be a cause. In rare cases, a reaction can occur without apparent cause.


  • Itching, especially under the feet, in the hands or on the head
  • A stinging feeling in the mouth
  • Swelling in the mouth, throat, lips, or eyes
  • Itching, redness, or nettle-rash anywhere on the body
  • Dizziness, anxiety, cold sweating
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting
  • Shortness of breath or asthma symptoms
  • Sudden fatigue, decreased blood pressure or fainting
  • Disorientation or loss of consciousness

Critical symptoms: difficulty to breath, mouth and throat swell, sudden fatigue, or dizziness, experiencing a steady worsening of symptoms.

If your client experiences these critical symptoms, inject adrenaline immediately. Call 999 and say “ANAPHYLAXIS”.


Adrenaline is the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis. If you have an adrenaline auto-injector – use it immediately. Adrenaline injected into the outer mid-thigh muscle works rapidly to reduce throat swelling, open the airways, and maintain heart function and blood pressure. It’s the only medication available for the immediate treatment of severe allergic reactions.

Antihistamine reduces hives, itching and irritation. Cortisone reduces the risk of late-onset reactions that can occur some hours following contact with allergens.

Who is at risk of anaphylaxis?

Although rare, anyone is at risk of anaphylaxis at any time even if there have been no previous experiences. However, a person who has previously experienced anaphylaxis – irrespective of cause – is at risk in the future, so it’s vital that you can recognise the signs and act immediately.

If the reaction was caused by peanuts, shellfish, or fish, it should not be ignored, even if mild. This is especially important if the reaction was caused by peanuts. This is also the case for certain drugs, insect stings or latex.

If your client suffers from anaphylaxis:

Do not underestimate the severity of an allergic reaction. Use your adrenaline auto-injector according to its instructions.

If in doubt, use your adrenaline auto-injector – it can save their life. Then lay them down with their legs slightly elevated.

Call 999 and say, “ANAPHYLAXIS.” State your name, location, and telephone number.

If possible, someone should wait outside to show the ambulance crew where you are.

Let ambulance personnel know about the client’s medical history and treatment undertaken.