What do I do if I have or someone I know has a severe allergic reaction?
Call 911 to get emergency medical help right away.
If the person having an attack has an emergency anaphylaxis kit with an EpiPen (epinephrine injector), give him or her the epinephrine injection right away. Then, make sure he or she still goes to the emergency room for follow-up. Epinephrine just buys the victim some time to get to emergency care.
What is in an emergency anaphylaxis kit?
An emergency anaphylaxis kit contains medicine to counteract your allergic reaction. This medicine is usually a drug called epinephrine that you inject into your arm or leg (or have a friend inject). Your doctor will prescribe a kit with the right dose of medicine and will teach you how to use it. Make sure your family, friends, and coworkers also know how to use the kit. Sometimes your doctor will tell you to keep an antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (one brand name: Benadryl), in the kit too.
What can I expect after anaphylaxis?
You should recover completely with treatment. Most people live a normal, full life. You can get back to your normal activities once you are feeling better. However, you should have someone stay with you for 24 hours after anaphylaxis to make sure another attack does not happen.
If you’ve had anaphylaxis, you need to be prepared for the possibility that you will have anaphylaxis again in the future. Talk to your doctor about how to minimize your risk for anaphylaxis in the future, and how to use your emergency medical kit.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff