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Paediatric first aid: Anaphylactic shock

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Sick child
Anaphylaxis or an anaphylactic shock is the overall term for a severe and dangerous reaction to an allergy to something such as foods or insect stings. An anaphylactic shock can be life threatening so it's important to know what to do if your child has one, and when they're old enough make them aware of what could trigger such a reaction and what to do if it happens.

Symptoms of an anaphylactic shock

When your body goes into shock your blood pressure will drop making you feeling tired and dizzy. Your face and body might go red and your face and neck might swell up making it harder to breathe.

Here's a list of symptoms that will help you ascertain if your child is having an anaphylactic shock:
  • Feeling lightheaded or faint

  • Breathing difficulties – such as fast, shallow breathing

  • Wheezing

  • Fast heartbeat

  • Clammy skin
  • Confusion and anxiety

  • Collapsing or losing consciousness


  • What to do if your or someone else's child has an anaphylactic shock

    1.Call 999 for an ambulance immediately and tell them that the child has had anaphylactic shock
    2.Remove any trigger if possible – for example, carefully remove any wasp or bee sting stuck in the skin
    3.Lie the child flat – unless they're unconscious, pregnant or having breathing difficulties
    4.They should have an adrenaline auto-injector so inject them ideally in the outside of the thigh or top of the bum – but make sure you know how to use it correctly first
    5.Give them another injection after five to 15 minutes if the symptoms don't improve and a second auto-injector is available

    Common triggers of an anaphylactic shock

    There are certain food groups or types of insect stings that are known as common triggers of anaphylaxis, here's a list of them for you to be aware of:

    Continued below...


  • Foods like nuts, milk, fish, shellfish, eggs and some fruits

  • Medicines such as some antibiotics and aspirin

  • Insect stings particularly wasp and bee stings

  • General anaesthetic

  • Latex
  • All pages in this article

    1. 1. Basic first aid: Electric shock
    1. 2. Paediatric first aid: Anaphylactic shock

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