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Severe Allergic Reaction (Anaphylactic Shock) (cont.)

Self-Care at Home

Do not attempt to treat severe reactions or to "wait it out" at home. Go immediately to the nearest emergency department or call an ambulance.

While waiting for the ambulance, try to stay calm.

  • If you can identify the cause of the reaction, prevent further exposure.
  • Take an antihistamine (one to two tablets or capsules of diphenhydramine [Benadryl]) if you can swallow without difficulty.
  • If you are wheezing or having difficulty breathing, use an inhaled bronchodilator such as albuterol (Proventil) or if one is available. These inhaled medications dilate the airway.
  • If you are feeling light-headed or faint, lie down and raise your legs higher than your head to help blood flow to your brain.
  • If you have been given an epinephrine kit, inject yourself as you have been instructed or have someone else perform the injection. The kit provides a premeasured dose of epinephrine, a prescription drug that rapidly reverses the most serious symptoms of anaphylaxis (see Follow-up).
  • Bystanders should administer CPR to a person who becomes unconscious and stops breathing or does not have a pulse.
If at all possible, you or your companions should be prepared to tell medical personnel what medications you take and your allergy history.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/10/2014
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