Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially fatal allergic reaction affecting the whole body. The reaction can often occur within minutes of being in contact with the allergen. If a person is having an anaphylactic reaction, they will need urgent medical attention.

Although anaphylaxis is life-threatening, deaths are rare(NHSCA)

Children who have had a previous severe reaction to an allergen, or who have asthma, are at particular risk of anaphylaxis.[SIM13]

Anaphylaxis can be caused by any allergen. This includes foods such as nuts (especially peanuts) sesame, fish, shellfish, dairy products, eggs & kiwi fruit. Other triggers are dust mites, pollen, pets, mould, latex, wasp or bee stings & medicines such as penicillin.

What are the symptoms of anaphylaxis?

Symptoms of anaphylaxis can begin within minutes to an hour of exposure, but can also occur several hours after exposure. Symptoms can include:(SIM13)

If your child shows any of these signs after contact with an allergen, seek medical attention straight away.

How is anaphylaxis treated?

Anaphylaxis should be treated with an adrenaline autoinjector followed by hospital care.

Your child’s doctor should consider providing you with an adrenaline autoinjector:

  • If your child has had a previous severe allergic reaction
  • If they suspect your child is at risk of anaphylaxis
  • If your child has asthma and may be at risk of anaphylaxis.

What should I do if my child is having an anaphylactic reaction?(NHSC)

For more information on anaphylaxis please visit Anaphylaxis UK


(NHSCA) NHS Choices: Anaphylaxis updated December 2014. Available here Last accessed February 2015
(SIM13) Simmons FE. Patient information: Anaphylaxis symptoms and diagnosis (beyond the basics). In: UpToDate, Bochner, BS (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA, 2013.

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