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Severe Allergic Reaction (Anaphylactic Shock) (cont.)

Follow-up for Severe Allergic Reaction

You will usually be observed for at least six hours after the beginning of the reaction. Occasionally, a reaction will seem to get better and then recur, and even worsen, in a few hours. Sometimes the severity of the reaction will require admission to the hospital.

Upon leaving the hospital emergency department, you should immediately obtain the medication prescribed for you. You should carry these at all times to prevent another reaction or lessen its severity.

  • The epinephrine autoinjector (known as EpiPen) should be kept with you at all times in case you are exposed to the antigen that caused the first reaction.
  • The autoinjector contains a premeasured dose of epinephrine in an easy-to-use syringe. As soon as an exposure occurs, you immediately inject the epinephrine into your thigh muscle. This is extremely effective and fast-acting.
  • Anyone who has experienced an anaphylactic reaction should carry one of these autoinjectors after consulting with your physician.
  • Medical attention is always required right away, even if you have treated yourself with epinephrine.
  • A follow-up appointment with your primary care doctor, and possibly an immunologist, should be made.

Is It Possible to Prevent a Severe Allergic Reaction?

Strictly avoid contact with the substance (allergen) that was the trigger.

  • If the trigger is a food, you must learn to read food labels carefully. When ordering foods at restaurants or eating in friends' homes, ask about ingredients. Be aware of ingredients that may contain triggers. Avoid eating foods if you can't confirm their ingredients. If your reactions are severe, contact the manufacturer to assure that the triggering food was not processed in the same area as a food to which you are allergic.
  • If the trigger is a drug, inform all health care providers of the reaction. Be prepared to report what happened when you had the reaction. Wear a tag (necklace or bracelet) that identifies the allergy. Make sure all your medical records are updated to include this allergy.
  • Insect stings are more difficult to avoid. Wear long-sleeved clothing outdoors. Avoid bright colors and perfumes that attract stinging insects. Use caution with sweetened beverages outdoors, such as uncovered soft drinks.

People who are likely to be re-exposed to (or are unable to avoid) an allergen that has caused them a severe anaphylactic reaction in the past should see an allergist for desensitization. Skin testing may be required to help identify the allergen.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/11/2017
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