Allergy awareness week - First Aid advice
Allergies occur when the body perceives a seemingly harmless substance as a threat and the immune system produces an inappropriate response.
Allergy is the most common chronic disease in Europe. Up to 20% of patients with allergies struggle daily with the fear of a possible asthma attack, anaphylactic shock, or even death from an allergic reaction.
In the 20 years to 2012 there was a 615% increase in the rate of hospital admissions for anaphylaxis in the UK.
Allergy U.K have reported that an estimated 21 million people in the U.K suffer with some form of allergy. This figure includes 50% of all children. These statistics show that allergies are an increasingly prevalent problem. The severity of the allergy can differ from person to person, ranging from mild and simply inconvenient to a life-threatening anaphylaxis.
A person can develop an allergy to any substance and can also become allergic to something they have previously been able to tolerate.
A specific protein contained in the substance will cause the allergic reaction. Common substances people are allergic to include food such as nuts or shellfish, pollen, pet hair, chemicals such as hair dye, medications (such as penicillin and NSAIDS) and insects such as bees and wasps.
Symptoms can be varied and include:
· Itching of skin and/or eyes nose
· Vomiting and diarrhoea
Allergic reactions are usually managed with avoidance of the substance that causes the allergy, but this is not always possible.
Medication can be used to treat mild-moderate allergic reactions and anti-histamines are widely available without prescription. Symptoms of the allergy can also be treated with medications such as steroid creams for rashes, nasal sprays for nasal irritation and emollients for eczema.
A severe allergic reaction can be life threatening and is known as Anaphylaxis.
Symptoms can include some or all of the below:
· Swelling of the tongue, throat, difficulty in swallowing
· Difficulty in breathing usually resulting in a noise known as stridor
· Severe wheeze when breathing
· Increase in heart rate
· Rash (urticaria, hives)
If you suspect somebody is experiencing an anaphylactic reaction an ambulance needs to be called immediately. Treatment for anaphylaxis is an intra-muscular injection of adrenaline. People who know they are at risk of an anaphylactic reaction will usually carry an auto injector so as to be able to treat themselves quickly in the event of a reaction.
Adrenaline is life-saving and must be used promptly in anaphylaxis. Delaying the giving of adrenaline can result in deterioration and death. This is why using an adrenaline device is the first line of treatment for anaphylaxis.
Here at Lubas medical, we offer anaphylaxis training as part of our first aid courses. We can also provide a bespoke course to teach how to recognise an anaphylactic reaction and how to administer the recommended treatment.
For more information regarding allergies, and how to manage them visit:
You’ll find lots of useful information and a different article each day of allergy week highlighting a relevant topic.