What Parents Should Know About Anaphylaxis

What Parents Should Know About Anaphylaxis

Allergic reactions can be life-threatening. Protect your child by learning more about its causes, and necessary actions.

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In many cases, allergies result in rashes and watery eyes. However, they can lead to a more serious reaction called anaphylaxis. To help parents know more about anaphylaxis, pediatrician Dr. Joselyn Eusebio shares essential information that every parent should know about.

What is anaphylaxis?

“Anaphylaxis is a severe, life threatening, generalized or systemic hypersensitivity reaction,” Dr. Eusebio explains. “It is potentially fatal as it is characterized by rapidly developing life-threatening breathing and/or circulation problems usually associated with skin and mucosal changes.”

What are the causes of anaphylaxis?

Dr. Eusebio lists the following triggering factors may cause an immunoglobulin E (IgE)- or non–IgE-mediated anaphylaxis:

  • In children, food is a significant trigger for IgE-mediated anaphylaxis.
    • Milk, eggs, wheat, and soy (MEWS) as a group are the most common food allergens; however, peanuts and fish are among the most potent.
    • Some children can develop anaphylaxis from the fumes  of cooking fish or residual peanut in a candy bar.
  • Other common triggers include preservatives (in food and drugs), medications (antibiotics), insect venom (bee sting), and bioactive substances (eg, blood, blood products).
  • Environmental allergens such as pollens, molds, and dust mites are a less common and infrequent cause of anaphylaxis.
  • Non-IgE triggers include infection, opiates, radiocontrast dye, and exercise

What can parents do to avoid anaphylaxis?

To reduce the risk of anaphylactic reaction, Dr. Eusebio recommends the following steps:

  • Allergist evaluation
  • Testing to determine the trigger. Allergists can perform and interpret skin tests to confirm the person’s specific allergen triggers.
  • Avoiding triggers. When a trigger has been identified, it should be avoided.
  • Wear medical identification. People who have experienced an anaphylactic reaction should wear a medical identification bracelet or similar medical identification tag at all times.

What are the symptoms of anaphylaxis?

According to Dr. Eusebio, symptoms of anaphylactic reactions may include:

  • Skin: A sudden tingling and warm sensation, itching, flushing, urticaria (hives), and swelling.
  • Eyes: Itching, tearing, and swelling of the tissues around the eyes.
  • Nose and mouth: Sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, itching of the mouth and throat, and metallic taste.
  • Lungs and throat: Difficulty breathing, coughing, wheezing, increased airway secretions, swelling of the upper throat, hoarseness, sounds of labored breathing, and sensation of choking.
  • Heart: Very rapid heartbeat, arrhythmia (an irregular heart beat).
  • Digestive system: Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea.
  • Nervous system: Dizziness, weakness, fainting, and a sense of impending doom.

How is anaphylaxis treated?

“Initial management of the pediatric patient with suspected anaphylaxis should include a rapid, thorough assessment of the airway, breathing and circulation, with immediate and concurrent administration of IM epinephrine,” Dr. Eusebio explains. Patients showing symptoms of anaphylaxis must be treated immediately.


  • Dr. Joselyn Eusebio - Developmental Pediatrics
  • Emergency treatment of anaphylactic reactions. Guidelines for healthcare providers. Copyright - Resuscitation Council. Review Date: 2016 (UK)
  • Paediatr Child Health. 2011 Jan; 16(1): 35–40.
  • Brown University Health Services | www.brown.edu/health



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