Have you ever had an allergic reaction to something you’ve eaten? What were your symptoms? Did you get a stomach ache, maybe a rash? That is classified as a non-anaphylactic allergy, or simply, intolerance.
What are anaphylactic allergies?
Now you may be wondering, what is an anaphylactic allergy? Anaphylaxis is a life threatening allergic reaction. Going into anaphylactic shock can affect several body systems including the respiratory and circulatory systems.
Once someone goes into anaphylactic shock, they must be injected with an EpiPen. An EpiPen is a self-administered shot of Epinephrine that can reverse the effects of anaphylaxis. In order for the injection to be effective in treating serious allergic reactions, it must be administered quickly; delays can result in death in under thirty minutes. After someone is given the EpiPen, they still need to go to the emergency room to make sure they are completely okay.
How to administer an EpiPen:
To administer an EpiPen, you take off the protective cover, pull off the blue bit at the top, and push the orange end with the needle into the person’s outer thigh. You need to hold it there for three seconds. A good way to remember this is blue to the sky, orange to the thigh.
What are common allergens and their reactions?
Most anaphylactic allergies are to certain foods, but people can also have these reactions to bee stings, latex, etc. The eight most common food allergies are peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, soy, wheat, milk, and eggs.
Another main concern for people with severe allergies is cross contamination, or the process of when organisms are unintentionally transferred from one substance to another. For example, let’s say you had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a bag of chips at lunch. Imagine your friend asks you for a chip, and you decide to share with them. Now, the microscopic amount of peanut butter on your hand is on the chip. If your friend has an anaphylactic allergy to peanuts, then they could go into shock. Scary, right?
When someone with an allergy consumes or comes into contact with the food they are allergic to, then they go into anaphylactic shock. What most people do not know is that those with severe allergies can also go into shock through the inhalation of microscopic amounts of particles they are allergic to. Going into shock can result in difficulty breathing, reduced blood pressure, headaches, vomiting, cramping, swollen lips, and more.
What can you do?
Anaphylactic allergies are technically a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and this is a common reason why most people with allergies keep it to themselves. Overall, it is important to educate our school community about anaphylaxis to help make our school safer and a little less stressful for the students and staff with severe allergies.
For more information, you can take a look at the Food Allergy Research and Education (Fare) website.
Click here for a video demonstration on how to administer an EpiPen.