Foods like nuts and shellfish are just two of the many allergy triggers that affect millions of American children and adults. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, over 50 million Americans suffer from some type of allergies, making allergies the sixth-leading cause of chronic illness in the United States.
When a loved one suffers from a potentially life-threatening allergy, knowing exactly what to do and taking immediate action is essential to getting them the care they need as quickly as possible. At Midwest Regional Health Services, our team of primary care physicians and specialists offers urgent care treatment and walk-in services at our office in Omaha, Nebraska.
What to do about a loved one’s allergic reaction
If you live with a family member who suffers from an allergy to food, medication, environmental factors, or insect bites, the first thing you should do is familiarize yourself with the signs of an adverse allergic reaction.
Depending on the type of allergy, some of the most common symptoms of an allergic reaction include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Coughing or wheezing
- Swelling of the lips, tonsils, and/or tongue
- Tightness in the chest
- Abdominal cramps or pain
- Loss of consciousness
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
You should also know what type of allergy your loved one suffers from. Food allergies are the most common for children and adults, but it’s possible to suffer from multiple allergies at the same time.
Other common allergens include:
- Insect bites (bee stings, etc)
- Environmental (pollen and dust)
- Pet dander
- Medications (e.g. penicillin)
Depending on the type and severity of the allergic reaction, many allergic episodes clear up on their own and can be managed with over-the-counter medication without a trip to urgent care.
Know the signs of anaphylaxis
Severe allergic reactions can be life-threatening and require immediate attention. Anaphylaxis is a form of shock triggered by a severe allergic reaction and can set in within seconds of exposure to the allergen.
If your loved one suffers from severe allergic reactions and has an EpiPen® (epinephrine auto injector), know where it is at all times, and keep it somewhere accessible where you can use it as quickly as possible.
Even if the symptoms improve after applying the epinephrine, you should still take them to urgent care or the emergency room to ensure that the allergic reaction has completely subsided.
You should seek immediate medical attention for symptoms like difficulty breathing, swollen tongue/lips, dizziness, constricted airway, rash/hives, and loss of consciousness. If you’re not sure what to do, it’s always a good idea to go to urgent care just to be safe.
For more information about managing and responding to allergic reactions and other medical emergencies, contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our urgent care doctors.