Anaphylaxis: Treatment

It is always most important to treat anaphylaxis quickly and appropriately

  • Anaphylaxis can vary widely in its signs and symptoms, even in patients who have previously had reactions.  
  • Patients should always rapidly seek treatment in a location that is equipped to manage emergency care.

Once a diagnosis of anaphylaxis has been made, and a cause identified, it is most important that a patient be educated in prevention.  

  • More so than any other type of allergy, prevention of anaphylaxis relies on strict avoidance of the cause.  
  • This requires that the patient be educated as to the ways in which to avoid the cause, as well as to treat him or herself should anaphylaxis occur.  

The single most important agent in the treatment of true anaphylaxis is epinephrine.  Not only is it used in medical settings such as offices, urgent care centers and emergency departments, it is prescribed to patients who have experienced anaphylaxis. It is vital to avoid the patient going into shock.  

  • Outside of medical settings it is usually dispensed in auto-injector kits (such as the Epi-Pen), and patients must be taught how to use this during their initial evaluation of anaphylaxis.  
  • Other medications for patients with a history of anaphylaxis to have on hand are liquid antihistamines, such as Benadryl, and a rescue inhaler, such as albuterol, if the patient has asthma.  
  • Medical care should be sought as soon as possible whenever anaphylaxis occurs, even for patients carrying their own epinephrine. Very often, patients will need more medications, and possibly IV fluids and oxygen.  
  • It is also important that even after a reaction resolves, the patient is closely monitored in case symptoms return after several hours. 

Careful follow-up should always be arranged for patients after the initial evaluation and education visits.  It is vital that patients are fully educated and comfortable with the use of epinephrine in auto-injector kits.  

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