Anaphylaxis - Barnsley College

Anaphylaxis Management


What is anaphylaxis?

Some people are allergic to certain foods, medicines, insects and latex. When they come into contact with these things, they develop symptoms such as hives and swelling. Minor or severe symptoms can lead to a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

In as many as one in four cases of anaphylaxis, no trigger can be identified despite extensive testing. This is known as idiopathic anaphylaxis.

The symptoms of idiopathic anaphylaxis are no different from those caused by other forms of anaphylaxis

Causes of anaphylaxis

In the list below are the eight main causes of anaphylaxis. They account for 90% of all reactions. What are they?

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Peas
  • Snails
  • Shellfish
  • Pork
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Water chestnuts
  • Fish
  • Tree nuts
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Gluten
  • Barley

Why is this important?

• Peanut allergy in pre-school children has increased to 1:70

• Anaphylaxis occurs in 1:3500 of the UK population each year

• Hospital admissions due to anaphylaxis have increased sevenfold in the last decade, and doubled in the last four years

• Between 2001 and 2005 there was a 25% increase in the reported cases of anaphylaxis

Signs and symptoms

  • Mouth
    Itching Swelling of lips and/or tongue
  • Lungs
    Shortness of breath Coughing Wheezing
  • Heart
    Weak pulse Dizziness Passing out Shock
  • Skin
    Itching Hives Redness Swelling
  • Throat
    Itching Tightness/closure Coughing
  • Stomach
    Vomiting Nausea Diarrhea Cramps


A St John Ambulance trainer demonstrates what to look for if someone has suffered a severe allergic reaction, such as an allergy rash and what to do to help to avoid anaphylactic shock. 


Call for  immediately

If your casualty is having difficulty , help them to sit up

If they have low blood pressure, get them to lie flat and raise their  

If they are unconscious, check that their airway is  and  and check that they are breathing normally

Place them in the  position

Be prepared to  them

Using an auto-injector

  • Remove from sheath
  • Pull off blue safety cap
  • Hold device about 10cm from outer thigh
  • Swing and jab orange tip firmly against outer thigh and listen for the ‘click’
  • Hold in place for 10 seconds
  • Massage for 10 seconds



Adrenaline is the gold standard in the treatment of anaphylaxis, and its administration should not be delayed. 

In a First Aid situation, adrenalin will normally be delivered by an auto-injector. 

If available, an injection of adrenaline should be given as soon as possible. 

If after 5 -15 minutes the casualty still feels unwell, a second injection should be given. This should be given in the opposite  thigh. 

A second dose may also be required if the symptoms reoccur. 

When treating a potential anaphylaxis casualty, it should be noted that there are NO contraindications for the use of adrenaline.

Question 1

Why is it important to call for the emergency services? Because its…..

  • Good for national statistics
  • A life threatening condition that requires emergency medical care
  • Often easier to treat with more resources
  • Almost certain that a casualty will have a cardiac arrest

Question 2

What condition could a casualty be suffering from when displaying the following signs and symptoms? Pale, cold clammy skin, rapid weak pulse, rapid shallow breathing.

  • Stroke
  • Heatstroke
  • Choking
  • Shock
  • Heart attack

Question 3

What is anaphylaxis?

Question 4

List 3 triggers of anaphylaxis.

Question 5

 List 3 types of treatment for anaphylaxis

Question 6

List 3 life threatening problems associated with anaphylaxis

  • Circulatory/respiratory – causing unconsciousness
  • Swelling of the airway leading to an airway obstruction
  • Rapid heart rate leading to cardiac arrest/stopping breathing
  • Slow heart rate leading to cardiac arrest/stopping breathing
  • Hives
  • Stomach cramps and nausea