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pdfASCIA Fast Facts Anaphylaxis 2019329.28 KB

  1. AnaphylaxisAnaphylaxis is a potentially life threatening, severe allergic reaction that should always be treated as a medical emergency. It occurs after exposure to an allergen (usually to foods, insects or drugs), to which a person is allergic. Not all people with allergies are at risk of anaphylaxis.

  2. Anaphylaxis symptoms include one or more of the following:

    • Difficult/noisy breathing

    • Swelling/tightness in throat

    • Wheeze or persistent cough

    • Pale and floppy (in young children)

    • Swelling of tongue

    • Difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice

    • Persistent dizziness and/or collapse

    • Stomach (abdominal) pain, vomiting (insect allergy)

  3. In some cases, anaphylaxis is preceded by a mild to moderate allergic reaction, with symptoms such as swelling of face, lips and/or eyes, hives or welts and stomach (abdominal) pain, vomiting.

  4. ASCIA Action Plans for Anaphylaxis include infographics to illustrate the first step of action for anaphylaxis:

    • person lay flat in anaphylaxis

      1 Lay person flat
      Do NOT allow them to stand or walk
      If unconscious, place in recovery position
      If breathing is difficult allow them to sit

    • 2 Give adrenaline autoinjector

    • 3 Phone ambulance - 000 (AU) or 111 (NZ)

    • 4 Phone family/emergency contact

    • 5 Further adrenaline doses may be given if no response after 5 minutes

    • 6 Transfer person to hospital for at least 4 hours of observation
      If in doubt give adrenaline autoinjector
      Commence CPR at any time if person is unresponsive and not breathing normally

  5. Adrenaline (epinephrine) injected into the outer mid-thigh works rapidly to reverse the effects of anaphylaxis and is the first line treatment for anaphylaxis. 

  6. Adrenaline autoinjectors contain a single, fixed dose of adrenaline, and have been designed to be used by non-medical people, including the patient themselves (if they are well enough).

For more information, including free e-training courses visit

Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia and Allergy New Zealand are patient support organisations that provide updates and advice for people with allergies.

© ASCIA 2018

ASCIA is the peak professional body of clinical immunology/allergy specialists in Australia and New Zealand

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This document has been developed and peer reviewed by ASCIA members and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner. Development of this document is not funded by any commercial sources and is not influenced by commercial organisations.

Content updated February 2019