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How should I care for someone in anaphylactic shock?

  • Monitor the person’s breathing and for changes in his or her condition.
  • Give care for life-threatening emergencies.
  • Check a conscious person to determine:
    • The substance (antigen) involved.
    • The route of exposure to the antigen.
    • The effects of the exposure.
  • If the person is conscious and is able to talk, ask:
    • What is your name?
    • What happened?
    • How do you feel?
    • Do you feel any tingling in your hands, feet or lips?
    • Do you feel pain anywhere?
    • Do you have any allergies? Do you have prescribed medications to take in case of an allergic reaction?
    • Do you know what triggered the reaction?
    • How much and how long were you exposed?
    • Do you have any medical conditions or are you taking any medications?
  • Quickly check the person from head to toe.

    Visually inspect the body:
    • Observe for signs of anaphylaxis including respiratory distress.
    • Look for a medical identification (ID) tag, bracelet, or necklace.

      Check the person’s head.
    • Look for swelling of the face, neck, or tongue.
    • Notice if the person is drowsy, not alert, confused, or exhibiting slurred speech.

      Check skin appearance. Look at person’s face and lips. Ask yourself, is the skin:
    • Cold or hot?
    • Unusually wet or dry?
    • Pale, ashen, bluish, or flushed?

      Check the person’s breathing:
    • Ask if he or she is experiencing pain during breathing.
    • Notice rate, depth of breaths, wheezes, or gasping sounds.

      Care for respiratory distress:
    • Help the person to rest in the most comfortable position for breathing, usually sitting.
    • Calm and reassure the person.
  • Assist the person with using a prescribed epinephrine auto-injector, if available and if permitted by state regulations.
  • Document any changes in the person’s condition over time.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.