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Discharge Instructions for Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a severe, allergic reaction that can gets worse quickly and can become deadly. It causes itching, hives, facial and other swelling, and breathing problems. The most common reactions are to food, insect stings, and medicine.

Emergency care is needed right away. Home care can help with healing. Lifestyle changes will be needed to lower the risk of another reaction.

Steps to Take

Home Care

Keep a journal of the foods, insect stings, or medicines that cause allergic reactions. Share this with your doctor. It will help to learn what triggers your reactions and how to lower your risk.

Caregivers should work with their child's doctor to make an allergy and anaphylaxis emergency plan. Share the plan with your child's daycare, school, and other caregivers.

Be prepared for any new reactions:

  • Have an emergency epinephrine pen nearby at all times. Check the expiration date often.
  • Teach others in your life what to do when you have an emergency.
  • Wear a MedicAlert bracelet. It will let others know of your allergy if you are not able to tell them.

Diet

Do not eat foods that trigger allergic reactions. Sometimes, ingredients are hidden or added by accident.

Some tips are:

  • Read food labels with care.
  • Food and any ingredients you are allergic to should be kept in a separate part of the kitchen.
  • A separate set of utensils should be used for allergic foods. Examples are cutting boards, knives, measuring cups, and other cooking tools.
  • Clean counters, tables, and utensils well after use.
  • Do not use the kitchen if someone is cooking with the food that causes your allergy.
  • Do not visit places where the food that can affect you is airborne.

Children should not share foods, food utensils, or food containers.

Physical Activity

You can slowly return to normal activities as you are able. People who have allergies that are triggered by exercise should not do things that trigger the reaction. Stop exercising at the first sign of a reaction.

Return to work when the doctor has said it is okay. Do not drive until the doctor has said it is safe.

Medications

An epinephrine self-injector pen may be given to treat a future reaction. It should be kept nearby and injected at the first signs of a problem.

Other medicines may be given to treat allergy symptoms.

When taking medicine:

  • Take your medicine as advised. Do not change the amount or schedule.
  • Be aware of the side effects of your medicine. Tell your doctor if you have any.
  • Talk to your doctor before you stop taking any prescription medicine.
  • Do not share your prescription medicine.
  • Medicines can be harmful when mixed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one, including over the counter products and supplements.
  • Plan for refills.

Follow-up

Your doctor will need to check on your progress. You may need to see a doctor who treats allergies. Be sure to go to all appointments.

Call for Medical Help Right Away If Any of the Following Occur

Use your epinephrine and call for emergency medical services right away if you have:

  • Hives and itching
  • Swelling, redness, stinging, or burning, especially on the face, mouth, eyes, or hands
  • Lightheadedness
  • Problems breathing
  • Chest tightness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cramping and diarrhea
  • Fast, irregular heartbeat

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
http://www.aaaai.org

Food Allergy Research & Education
http://www.foodallergy.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Allergy Asthma Information Association
http://aaia.ca

Calgary Allergy Network
http://www.calgaryallergy.ca

REFERENCES:

Anaphylaxis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/anaphylaxis. Updated March 22, 2019. Accessed March 10, 2020.

Shock, anaphylactic. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at:https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Updated September 29, 2017. Accessed March 10, 2020.

4/24/2017 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttps://www.dynamed.com/condition/anaphylaxis: Wang J, Sicherer S H, et al. Guidance on completing a written allergy and anaphylaxis emergency plan. Pediatrics. 2017 Mar;139(3). Available at: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/139/3/e20164005. Accessed April 24, 2017.

Last reviewed November 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD  Last Updated: 3/10/2020