Self-management

Coping and support

Having a potentially life-threatening reaction is frightening, whether it happens to you, others close to you or your child. Developing an anaphylaxis emergency action plan can help put your mind at ease.

Work with your own or your child's doctor to develop this written, step-by-step plan of what to do in the event of a reaction. Then share your plan with teachers, baby sitters and other caregivers.

If your child has a severe allergy or has had anaphylaxis, talk to the school nurse and teachers to find out what plans they have for dealing with an emergency. Make sure school officials have a current autoinjector.

Prevention

The best way to prevent anaphylaxis is to avoid substances that cause this severe reaction. Also:

  • Wear a medical alert necklace or bracelet to indicate you have an allergy to specific drugs or other substances.
  • Keep an emergency kit with prescribed medications available at all times. Your doctor can advise you on the contents. If you have an epinephrine autoinjector, check the expiration date and be sure to refill your prescription before it expires.
  • Be sure to alert all your doctors to medication reactions you've had.
  • If you're allergic to stinging insects, use caution around them. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants; don't walk barefoot on grass; avoid bright colors; don't wear perfumes, colognes or scented lotions; and don't drink from open soda cans outdoors. Stay calm when near a stinging insect. Move away slowly and avoid slapping at the insect.
  • If you have food allergies, carefully read the labels of all the foods you buy and eat. Manufacturing processes can change, so it's important to periodically recheck the labels of foods you commonly eat.

    When eating out, ask how each dish is prepared, and find out what ingredients it contains. Even small amounts of food you're allergic to can cause a serious reaction.

Be prepared

Even if you're careful, at some point you'll likely be exposed to what you're allergic to. Fortunately, you can respond quickly and effectively to an allergy emergency by knowing the signs and symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction and having a plan to quickly treat those symptoms.