Anaphylaxis is a severe systemic allergic reaction that causes the bronchi (in the respiratory system) to constrict and blood vessels to dilate. This is a two fold assault to crucial body systems, namely the Respiratory and Circulatory systems. When a person experiences anaphylaxis it is also called an anaphylactic shock.
During an anaphylactic shock a patient is having trouble breathing which can lead to respiratory arrest (failure) as the airways start / continue to constrict allowing less air to get through for a normal breathing process. Patients start showing signs of choking as they become desperate for the air. While this is happening to the respiratory system, on the other hand blood vessels that help in transporting blood to different parts of the body & maintaining adequate blood pressure, expands in their size resulting in falling blood pressure.
This is an emergency situation which requires immediate intervention.
There is more to learn about the signs & symptoms, bodies response and treatment for anaphylaxis*. PLEASE READ DISCLAIMER.
Other signs and symptoms for anaphylaxis may also include the following but not limited to:
Having to manage an anaphylactic patient can add to the mental stress of leading a group especially in an outdoor setting. Once decided that a person is experiencing anaphylaxis, epinephrine is the drug that needs to be administered as soon as possible. It would be unwise to wait for symptoms to become severe. A delay in administering epinephrine may result in a fatality.
Here are some common errors people do while using an Epipen® auto injector
Knowing the 5 rights
Prior to administering an Epipen® auto injector. Run down a check list of five simple questions. This is a helpful medium to reduce chances of an error.
Administering Epipen® Auto Injector
Once you have checked 5 rights, the patient’s signs and symptoms meet the criteria and it’s time to administer the drug. Most important, do not panic or withhold the medication. Epipen® auto injector is administered IntraMuscularly. Preferably on the mid outer thigh, left or right. (vastus lateralis muscle).
Caution: Please note that the Epipen is a registered brand. You or your client might have a different make and it may not have the colors mentioned above. We strongly advise that you familiarise yourself prior to having the need to use. Epinephrine can also be purchased in a vial.
“If possible pull the pants up or cut open the fabric and administer at skin level”
How it works
The EpiPen® auto injector contains a drug called epinephrine. Epinephrine are hormones that help in reversing bronchoconstriction and vasodilation.the airways begin to open, raising blood pressure, stimulating the heart, reversing hives, and reducing swelling of the mucous membrane.
You should be planning to call an ambulance or take this person to a definitive medical care. The patient would experience another anaphylactic shock. In which
case you are left with less resources to respond and manage your patient.
Anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock is a life threatening condition causing constriction of the airway and dilation of the blood vessels. It’s a dual assault to two of the crucial body systems. If left untreated, it may lead to a fatality, hence it requires immediate intervention.
To treat anaphylaxis, epinephrine is the go to drug. Epinephrine is available as auto injectors as well as in vials. Additional training may be required to administer an injection. Once sure that a person is experiencing anaphylaxis, administer epinephrine and start working towards taking the patient to medical care.
Author – Amit Arora, Outdoor Leadership & Wilderness Medicine Educator
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