How should I care for someone having a severe allergic reaction?

Caring for someone having a severe allergic reaction is an emergency. Give the person epinephrine right way. Epinephrine comes in an autoinjector, which you use to inject the medicine into the person's thigh. The person should lie down (on the back if feeling sick) and stay lying down until he or she feels better.

If the person still has symptoms after using epinephrine, you should follow his or her emergency plan. You might need to give another dose of epinephrine or get the person to the emergency room for more treatment. People with severe allergies should remember to keep their epinephrine autoinjector with them at all times so that it’s ready when they need it.

  • Monitor the person’s breathing and for any changes in the person’s 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
  • Assist the person with using an epinephrine auto-injector, if available and state or local regulations allow.
  • Assist the person with taking an antihistamine, if available.
  • Document any changes in the person’s condition over time.

If you suspect someone is having a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), it is important to seek rapid medical care. Getting early treatment with medications such as epinephrine may be life saving. Someone with known allergies should avoid allergic triggers as much as possible. If you or a loved one has a severe allergy, you should be trained to use an EpiPen, which should be used immediately after exposure to the allergen, even before seeking emergency medical care.

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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.