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  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52

Anaphylaxis

allergicAnaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life threatening allergic reaction that usually occurs rapidly (acute) after exposure to an allergen. These reactions tend to happen within 20 minutes to 2 hours of exposure to a trigger. Anaphylactic reactions require urgent medical attention and are treated as medical emergencies. These generalized allergic reactions tend to involve two or more bodily systems namely, gastro-intestinal, skin, respiratory and cardiovascular.

    Some of the most common causes of anaphylactic reactions in children include:
        Medications, especially penicillin, anesthetic drugs, some intravenous infusion liquids, and injections used during x-rays. Prescription, over-the-counter and herbal medicine can cause anaphylaxis in some people.

        Foods and food additives, such as tree nuts, peanuts, fish, seafood, milk, eggs, soy and wheat. . In some individuals, even the smallest amount of these foods can trigger a dangerous allergic reaction.

        Insect stings, including bee, wasp and jumper jack stings. Ticks and fire ants can also cause anaphylaxis in sensitive individuals.

        Latex, mainly found in rubber gloves, catheters and other medical products. Individuals who have a latex allergy may have a cross allergy with bananas, avocado, figs, kiwi fruit or tomatoes.

        Unknown, sometimes a sufferer may have an anaphylaxis of unknown origin, where the trigger cannot be found, this is known as an idiopathic anaphylaxis.

        Exercise, may precipitate reactions in some. This is known as an exercise-induced anaphylaxis.

        Symptoms:

        Each child may experience the symptoms of anaphylaxis differently. Symptoms can range from mild to moderate, to severe. An anaphylactic reaction usually occurs quickly and may include symptoms such as:

        Severe itching of the skin, possibly with a nettle rash (urticaria or hives)

        Flushing or skin redness

        Itchy and tingling lips, tongue, throat

        Tightness or swelling of the throat

        Hoarseness or difficulty talking

        Angioedema (subcutaneous swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue and throat)

        Nausea and vomiting

        Diarrhoea

        Stomach pain

        Asthma symptoms, such as wheezing, persistent coughing or breathing difficulties

        Irregular heart beat

        Low blood pressure, that may result in fainting, loss of consciousness or collapse

        A sense of impending doom (anxiety/panic)

        Young children may appear pale and floppy

        Diagnosis:
        Children, who are at risk for or experience severe allergic reactions, should be referred to an allergy specialist in order for a correct diagnosis to be made. Food allergic children, who have a history of eczema and asthma, are at a higher risk of anaphylaxis. Your child’s doctor will give you advice on the preventative management of your child’s condition and an emergency treatment plan. The first line of treatment for severe allergic reactions is the administration of adrenaline. This emergency medication will be prescribed together with an Anaphylaxis Action Plan.

        Treatment:
        Being diagnosed with anaphylaxis is scary; but it is a treatable and often preventable event. The first step to prevention is knowing and avoiding allergic triggers/ allergens, which are known to produce severe symptoms or have been identified in allergy tests as being potentially dangerous to your child. Educate your child and their caregivers about how to avoid foods or other allergic triggers.

        However, because accidental exposure is a reality, it is important that your child and their caregiver are able to identify the symptoms of anaphylaxis and are prepared to administer adrenaline according to your child’s Anaphylaxis Action Plan. Most children are given an EpiPen to use in the case of emergencies. The EpiPen auto injector is an intra-muscular injection of adrenaline.

        Due to the often unpredictable course and nature of severe allergic reactions, your child’s allergy specialist will design an individualized Action Plan for anaphylaxis. This emergency medical kit, containing your child’s Anaphylaxis Action Plan, emergency adrenaline and other recommended medication, must be readily available at all times. Be sure to educate family, friends, colleagues, childcare staff and teachers about your child’s allergies, where they can find your child’s emergency kit and how to use the adrenaline auto injector in the case of emergencies.

        Adrenaline is generally injected into the upper thigh because the medication works quicker when injected into a muscle rather than fat. Never inject adrenaline into the buttock muscles and ensure that your fingers are not in the way when giving an adrenaline injection or using an Epipen.

        When to use adrenaline?

        If your child is having a severe allergic reaction and…

        1.      Their throat is swollen (there is a feeling of tightness, hoarseness, difficulty talking)

        2.      They are having breathing problems

        3.      They feel like they are going to pass out or lose consciousness (very young children may appear to be floppy)

        Although adrenaline is the primary treatment for anaphylaxis and the best medication for getting anaphylactic reactions under control, your child may require other medications. He or she may also be given antihistamines and corticosteroids, together with intravenous fluids. For breathing difficulties, a bronchodilator may be required. Children generally need to be monitored for several hours after an anaphylaxis, in case their symptoms return (biphasic anaphylaxis). In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary.

        What you can do to help your child:

        Seek emergency medical assistance. Either take your child to the nearest emergency room or call an ambulance.

        Remain calm and reassuring.

        Encourage your child to breathe slowly and deeply. If they are conscious, support them in a semi-sitting position to make it easier for them to breathe.

        If they are pale, floppy and/or have a weak pulse. Lie them down and raise their legs to improve their circulation.

        Watch your child carefully for signs of shock, and treat if necessary. This occurs when there is a sudden drop in blood pressure and a narrowing of the airways.

        If your child losses consciousness but is breathing, place him or her in the recovery position.

        If your child stops breathing, perform CPR while you wait for an ambulance.

        Long term:

        Although there is no cure for allergies, those who do live with the risk of a severe allergic reactions, can lead normal, healthy, productive lives. Long term, the treatment of anaphylaxis requires the management of the condition, in the form of education, awareness and training. Sufferers of severe allergic reactions and their families need not stop their lives; but the management of anaphylaxis does require planning, diligence and clear communication. Ensure that your child has regular follow-ups with a specialist for their personalized treatment and care, as well as to obtain up-to-date information about anaphylaxis.

        If your child has previously experienced anaphylaxis it is usually advisable that they carry an emergency card or bracelet, together with their adrenaline, to alert others to their allergies.

        References:

        Peters, M. (2009). Home Doctor: Self-help treatments for 150 common conditions. Dorling Kindersley: London.

        Stoppard, M. (2005). Family health guide: The essential home reference for a lifetime of good health. Dorling Kindersley: London.

        http://www.chw.org

        http://www.allergyfacts.org.au/

        http://www.careforkids.com.au

        http://www.allergyuk.org/

        http://www.rch.org.au/