Severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis)

Photo: Samuli Raappana / Suomen Punainen Risti

Anaphylaxis refers to a deadly allergy reaction in the entire body.

A severe allergic reaction can be caused by any factor which causes allergy. For example, an anaphylactic reaction can be caused by a wasp sting, a medical substance, a food product or a scent. 

The symptoms often start as milder general symptoms, but they can become life-threatening in a matter of minutes. At worst, anaphylaxis can lead to an anaphylactic shock and death. 

Symptoms of anaphylaxis

  • Itching of the hands, lips, and scalp
  • Hives on the skin
  • Swelling in the facial area (mouth, eyes)
  • Hoarseness of the voice
  • Difficulties breathing as the swelling in the mouth area spreads to the airways
  • Stomach ache, vomiting, diarrhoea
  • Disturbances in consciousness

First aid in case of analyphaxis

  1. Call 112.

  2. Help the person into a position they find comfortable being and breathing in, for example a semi-seated position.

  3. Ask if the person has their own adrenaline auto injector (e.g. EpiPen®, Jext®), and assist them in injecting the medicine into the thigh. If the symptoms are not alleviated within 5–15 minutes, the dosage can be repeated.

    If an adrenaline auto injector is not available, hydrocortisone tablets can be given according to the instructions on the package, as long as they are able to swallow them.

  4. Observe the condition and breathing of the person until the emergency medical care personnel take over.

  5. If the person loses consciousness and is not breathing normally, start cardiopulmonary resuscitation and notify the Emergency Response Centre of the changed situation.

Call the general emergency number 112 in an emergency.

Follow these instructions when making the emergency call

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