Anaphylaxis: How to recognize and respond to a severe allergic reaction

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Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction to an allergen. Learn how to prevent and identify anaphylaxis and how to respond when someone has an anaphylactic reaction.

Key points

  • Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction to an allergen such as certain foods, medications and insect bites or stings.
  • Common symptoms of anaphylaxis include difficulty breathing, dizziness, hives, swelling of the face and vomiting. If left untreated, anaphylaxis can be life threatening.
  • If someone has anaphylaxis, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency department immediately.
  • If it is your child’s first episode of anaphylaxis, see an allergist for a full assessment. Your child should be prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector, which they should carry with them at all times.
Last updated: March 23rd 2021