Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure to an allergic trigger, such as peanuts or bee stings.
Anaphylaxis causes the immune system to release a flood of chemicals that cause multiple symptoms as well as abnormalities in vital signs. Common triggers include foods, medications, insect venom and latex products.
Anaphylaxis symptoms usually occur within minutes of exposure to an allergen but the appearance of symptoms could be delayed 30 minutes or longer after exposure.
Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis:
- Skin reactions, including hives and itching and generalized flushing or pale skin
- Low blood pressure (hypotension)
- Respiratory distress
- Wheezing, dyspnea, stridor, or air hunger,
- Swelling of the lips, throat, or tongue
- Weak, thready, rapid pulse
- Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain
- Dizziness or fainting
- Recognition of symptoms being related to exposure is key
- Bring camper to health center for immediate evaluation
- Administer a dose of epinephrine via epinephrine auto-injector (ex. EpiPenⓇ) immediately for campers with 2 system involvement (any combination of hypotension, stridor, signs of respiratory distress, rapid swelling of the oral cavity or other pertinent symptom.)
- Monitor and record vital signs, including oxygen saturation if possible.
- Activation of 9-1-1 for transport to the emergency department should be considered for every patient who receives a dose of epinephrine.
- Consider repeat EpiPenⓇ dose if no improvement after 3-5 minutes; may repeat again for a maximum of three injections while waiting for EMS.
- Administration of antihistamine and steroids may be considered as adjunctive treatment after a dose of epinephrine is administered.