Learn How To Identify Anaphylactic Shock a.k.a. Anaphylaxis
Anaphylactic shock is a type of shock that occurs as a result of a severe allergic reaction. Unlike many other forms of shock, anaphylaxis can hit without any warning and at a moment’s notice.
And when it occurs, it must be treated immediately. Even after it has been properly treated, and the symptoms have disappeared, medical attention should be of the utmost importance. Below, you’ll find out why, along with how to properly diagnose and treat anaphylaxis.
What Is Anaphylactic Shock?
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening form of shock that is the result of a severe allergic reaction. It most often causes a sudden drop in blood pressure and leads to labored breathing.
Anaphylaxis can occur within minutes of exposure to the allergy-inducing substance. Inescts and food allergies are the most common cause of an anaphylactic reaction. But that’s not always the case. It can also occur several hours later without any apparent trigger. It’s this unpredictable pattern of behavior that makes anaphylaxis especially dangerous to riders.
Most Common Causes of Anaphylaxis
Just about any allergen can cause anaphylaxis – ranging from a simple bee sting to an allergic reaction to peanuts.
Below are some of the most common allergens that can lead to anaphylaxis:
- Food allergens – especially nuts (peanuts and tree nuts, like pecans, walnuts, etc.,), shellfish, fish, eggs, dairy
- Insect stings – honeybees, yellow jackets, wasps, hornets, and fire ants
- Certain medications – most common is penicillin
One rare cause of anaphylaxis that is worth mentioning is OTC pain medication such as ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen. Always ask a fellow rider if he’s allergic to any pain medication before giving him any.
What Are the Symptoms of Anaphylaxis?
There are two types of symptoms to look for when diagnosing anaphylaxis. Symptoms that are associated with shock and those associated with allergies:
- Weak and rapid pulse.
- Nausea (often accompanied by vomiting and/or diarrhea)
- Difficulty breathing and/or wheezing (as a result of constricted airways)
- Dizziness, fainting, and/or unconsciousness
- Allergic reaction symptoms, including:
- Skin reactions – rash, hives, itching, and flushed, pale, or clammy skin
- Swelling of body parts – especially face, eyes, lips, throat, or tongue
How to Treat Anaphylactic Shock
It’s often tempting for people who witness an anaphylactic reaction to try and wait to see if the conditions improve over a period of time. Even if for just a couple of minutes. But, in some instances, those couple of minutes could mean the difference between life and death. This is a medical emergency!
You need to make sure you take action immediately upon the first sign that the person could be suffering from anaphylaxis. Once you have diagnosed it, here is how you should treat it:
- If possible, call 911 immediately.
- Ask the person if they have anything with them that will help treat their allergic reaction, such as an EpiPen (autoinjector). If they do, ask them if they need help injecting the medication. It is usually injected via the person’s thigh.
- Lie the person down on his back. Make sure he is as still as possible.
- Make sure he’s as warm and comfortable as possible. This helps treat the shock symptoms. Remove any tight-fitting accessories and/or clothing. Get the rider out of the elements, if possible, and wrap him up in layered garments or a blanket.
- Check for signs of circulation. Breathing? Moving? Coughing? If none of these are present, start CPR immediately.
- Even if the symptoms of anaphylactic shock improve (and are virtually non-existent), still seek medical attention immediately. Symptoms can reoccur at any moment and for no apparent reason.
If you have any questions or anything to add, please leave them in the comments or on our FaceBook page!