Together is a new resource for anyone affected by pediatric cancer - patients and their parents, family members, and friends.Learn More
An allergic reaction is a response of the immune system to a trigger, known as an allergen. The immune system is designed to fight harmful substances. But sometimes the system can overreact causing allergy symptoms. A serious allergic reaction is known as anaphylaxis.
Medicines are a common cause of allergic reactions. Allergic reactions may also result from pollen, food, pets, insect stings, and other causes. Depending on the body’s response, an allergic reaction may be mild or severe. In most cases, allergic reactions are mild and can be treated with over-the-counter medications.
Severe allergic reactions can be life-threatening and need immediate medical treatment. Families should know the symptoms of an allergic reaction and have an action plan for emergencies. It is important to avoid what caused the allergic reaction to prevent another reaction in the future.
|Mild allergic reaction||Severe allergic reaction|
|Runny or stuffy nose||Swelling of mouth, tongue, lips, throat, or eyes|
|Sneezing||Low blood pressure|
|Itching||Dizziness or fainting|
|Watery eyes||Trouble swallowing or breathing|
|Skin redness or rash||Nausea or vomiting|
Pharmacists are trained to educate patients about drug allergies.
It is essential to prepare and have an action plan in place to manage a severe allergic reaction. A severe allergic reaction needs urgent medical care as soon as possible. Do not wait to see if an allergic reaction improves or worsens. Call 911 immediately. A severe allergic reaction can lead to death.
After a severe allergic reaction, symptoms can return. Patients may need medical care and monitoring for a period of time to make sure that the reaction has fully resolved.
The following guide can help during and after an allergic emergency:
S — Seek immediate medical help.
A — Identify the allergen. What may have caused the reaction?
F — Follow up with a specialist. An allergist or immunologist is a doctor who specializes in allergies.
E — Carry epinephrine for emergencies.
Reviewed: December 2019