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Allergic reactions: Symptoms and course of action

How can you tell if someone is having an allergic reaction and what should you do?

Mild to moderate allergic reactions can include:

  • Hives, welts or a rash
  • Swelling of lips, face or eyes
  • Stomach pains
  • Vomiting

Course of action:

  • Stay with the person and call for help
  • Give medications (if prescribed)
  • Locate EpiPen® or EpiPen® Jr (this is a device carried by people with allergies which contains adrenaline)
  • Contact parent/caregiver (if a child)
  • Watch for signs of anaphyalxis

Severe allergic reactions are called anaphylaxis. This is a life-threatening emergency; it can come on very quickly and
people at risk usually carry a life-saving adrenaline auto-injector with them at all times.

Symptoms of severe allergic reactions include:

  • Difficulty/noisy breathing
  • Swelling of tongue
  • Swelling/tightness in throat
  • A wheeze or persistent cough
  • Loss of consciousness and/or collapse
  • And if a young child, they can become pale and floppy

Course of action:

  • Give EpiPen® or EpiPen® Jr
  • Call 111 – state "anaphylaxis; need adrenaline"
  • Contact parent/caregiver (if a child)

If in doubt, give EpiPen®

Source: Australasian Society of Clinical Imunology & Allergy Inc.

Date modified: 3 April 2017
First published: Jan 2007


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