Page 1 Session 5 Anaphylaxis



What is Anaphylaxis

 Anaphylaxis is caused by a problem with the immune system, which is the body's natural defence against illness and infection.

In the case of anaphylaxis, your immune system overreacts to a harmless substance and releases a number of different chemicals, such as histamine, to deal with the mistaken threat. 


Anaphylaxis Triggers

 Insect stings
Most cases of anaphylaxis are caused by wasp and bee stings, this is one of the 4 KEY triggers. Although potentially any insect bite or sting can cause anaphylaxis.

It's estimated around 1 in 100 people will experience an allergic reaction after a wasp or bee sting, but only a small number of these people will go on to develop severe anaphylaxis. 


More than half of all cases of food-related anaphylaxis are caused by a KEY trigger, peanuts.

There are 3 other well  KEY main triggers to anaphylaxis they include:

  • Fish and shellfish
  • Penicillin 
  • Bee Sting/Wasps 

There are many other substances that will cause anaphylaxis, such as plasters.milk, kiwi, bananas etc.

Medicines known to trigger anaphylaxis in a small amount of people include:

antibiotics – particularly penicillin-like antibiotics
general anaesthetic – muscle-relaxant medicines used during surgery 
non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) – a type of painkiller that includes ibuprofen and aspirin

People sensitive to these types of medicines will usually develop anaphylaxis as soon as they begin a course of treatment, although they may have safely received them in the past.

The risk of anaphylaxis using these types of medicines is very small, so in most cases the benefits of treatment outweigh the potential risk.

For example, the risk of developing anaphylaxis is around:

1 in 1,480 after taking a NSAID-type painkiller 
1 in 5,000 after taking penicillin
1 in 10,000 after being given a general anaesthetic 


Child/Baby Care Plan

   The main objective is to implement the care plan for the child who has anaphylaxis. Prevention should be your first line of defence to prevent a reaction. Contents of the care plan:

  • Know what causes the reaction.
  • Prevent contact with the product.
  • Know initial indicators i.e. hives, itchy tongue.
  • ​Know when to give the Auto Injector
  • Know what happens after Auto Injector has been given.
  • Know when to give 2nd Auto Injector.
  • Know what to do if Auto Injector has no effect.
  • Know if the child has Asthma.
  • Ensure at least 2 pens are available.
  • Check to see if the child's has Medi Alert/SOS tags, to let others know of the child's condition.
  • Ensure Auto Injecto are in date.​

The care plan should have the treatment process, initially this could be Piriton or tablet form. 

Importantly if the child has an Auto Injector, its knowing how to use this Auto Injector correctly.

Manage Anaphlaxis

Recognise It:

  • Swollen eyes, lips,hands, feet and other areas.
  • Metallic taste, itchy tongue
  • Sore red, itchy eyes
  • Rapid heart , anxiety, fear
  • Itchy Skin, hives, nettle rash
  • Coughing
  • Breathing difficulty, gasping
  • Unconsciousness
  • Stops breathing

There are 3 Types of AUTO INJECTORS

2 x Epipens are required



The child or infant may have 2 Epipens. Adrenaline tends to burn up fast and the reaction may re-occur within a few minutes of giving the first Epipen. Should the 1st pen have no effect do not hesitate to give the 2nd Epipen. It is well know that the secondary attack can occur any time up to 72 hours after the first.   

There are 2 colour of pens:

Green for children/Infants

Yellow for Teenagers/Adults

The date is on the side of the Epipen

Age, size may differ for some children ensure that the care plan is reviewed regularly if in doubt ask parents/ guardians to review the care plan. 

Note: The new Epipen states that the injector is to be held firmly in thigh for 3 seconds, older models state 10 Seconds. Ensure you read the label on your Epipens. This information should be placed on the care plan and staff informed.


This is an example of how some may inject the Epipen. In many cases the first aider will have to administrate to young children or those in distress.