Anaphylaxis and allergy
Having a child diagnosed with a potentially severe allergy can be scary. It is important however to understand that you’re not alone and there are some great resources and support available.
Kids can be allergic to a wide range of things; including medicine, foods, insect stings, latex, pollen and dust mites.
Common allergy-causing foods include:
- Tree nuts
- Cow’s milk
It is important to be able to recognise the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction and anaphylaxis.
What is Anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening severe allergic reaction, that requires immediate treatment with adrenaline (epinephrine), which can save lives.
Allergic reactions usually occur quickly – within minutes (although they can take up to 2 hours). Other reactions to foods or other substances may be delayed. Sometimes it can be the second exposure when a reaction occurs.
Signs of mild to moderate allergic reaction include:
- Swelling of the face or the area of an insect sting site
- Hives or welts (rash) on the skin
- Tingling mouth or lips
- Unsettled/ inconsolable behaviour (babies)
- Abdominal pain and/or vomiting (these are signs of a mild to moderate allergic reaction to most allergens, but for insect allergy, these are signs of anaphylaxis)
Symptoms of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) are potentially life-threatening may include any of the following:
- Difficulty/noisy breathing
- Swelling of the tongue
- Swelling/tightness in the throat
- Wheezing or a persistent cough
- Difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice
- Persistent dizziness or collapse
- Pale and floppiness (babies and young children)
Anaphylaxis should always be treated as a medical emergency. If your child has been diagnosed with anaphylaxis, follow their action plan/First Aid.
If your child is showing the symptoms of anaphylaxis (above) for the first time follow the First Aid:
- Lay child flat – do NOT allow them to stand or walk – If unconscious, place in recovery position – If breathing is difficult allow them to sit with legs out flat in front
- Give adrenaline autoinjector if available
- Phone ambulance – 000 (AU)
- Further adrenaline doses may be given if no response after 5 minutes
- Commence CPR at any time if the person is unresponsive and not breathing normally
- If in doubt, always give the adrenaline autoinjector.
Download the Australian Anaphylaxis First Aid action plan here.
Remember, the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy says you must ALWAYS give adrenaline autoinjector FIRST, if someone has SEVERE AND SUDDEN BREATHING DIFFICULTY (including wheeze, persistent cough or hoarse voice), even if there are no skin symptoms. THEN SEEK MEDICAL HELP.
Does delaying the introduction of the common allergy-causing foods prevent food allergy?
Over the years advice has varied when it comes to giving babies common allergy foods which often creates anxiety among parents. Nip allergies in the bub website provides sound and sensible advice for parents giving their child a new food for the first time. The research today is very clear, giving your baby common allergy-causing foods before they are one year of age can greatly reduce the risk of them developing an allergy to that food.
When your baby is ready at around 6 months, but not before 4 months, start to introduce first foods including smooth peanut butter/paste and well-cooked egg.
Another great resource when it comes to providing information and education on allergies and anaphylaxis is the Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)
References: www.preventallergies.org.au https://www.allergy.org.au/hp/anaphylaxis