Now let’s cover allergic reactions, we’ve all heard stories of people who have died suddenly from a severe allergic reaction and these stories are frightening but fortunately events like this are very rare with less than 1,500 deaths from all different age groups and all types of allergies in the United States, statistically this is a very small number compared to approximately 50 million Americans that suffer from some form of allergy but unfortunately a recent studies show that allergies of all kinds are increasing in developed countries, nobody knows why for sure but one prominent theory is that we’ve developed too sterile a lifestyle with the constant use of antibacterial soap and this different hand sanitizers and air tight modern homes, our body’s immune systems are not developing to fight germs in the same way as they did in the past, now this can lead to over reactive immune systems, finding a balance between healthy living and clean living is a must so other theories include overuse of antibiotics, excessive immunizations, highly processed foods and environmental pollutants that have all led to the breakdown and confusion of the body’s natural immune system but whatever the cause, the reality is that more people are developing allergies than ever before and we need to be prepared to handle those emergencies from allergic reactions. Now you might find it interesting to know that food and insect allergies are the most common causes of severe reactions that happen outside of the hospital, with food allergies being the most prevalent, children tend to be the most affected and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between the years of 1997 and 2007 in the United States, the number of children that have food allergies rose by 18 percent, fortunately most children outgrow their food-related allergies by adulthood but peanut allergies tend to be lifetime.

Now you might be thinking to yourself yeah but what causes an allergy to develop, well the immune system normally defends the body against things that can be dangerous to your health such as viruses and bacteria, a healthy immune system keeps a person from getting sick when harmful germs find their way into the body by attacking and destroying the germs, an allergy results when the immune system mistakenly targets an ovary acts by attacking a normally harmless substance that’s been eaten, inhaled, injected or as contact to the skin, this substance that causes an allergy is called an allergen, an allergen may have been introduced to the body many times before without any trouble at all but at some point for some reason the body flags it as an invader and triggers the immune system to attack the allergen, the body will remember that specific allergen by producing antibodies that will be ready to go into action to attack the allergen as soon as it enters the body, this is the reason that an allergic reaction is often more severe the second or even the third time when it happens. Now when the immune system attacks an allergen, high quantities of histamine and other chemicals are released into surrounding tissues and depending on the part of the body involved, the histamine and chemicals cause itching, hives, rash, sneezing, they can form wheezing, it can cause swelling, a runny nose, nausea and even more symptoms than that.

Now a serious allergic reaction that can be life-threatening is called anaphylaxis, this is a severe sudden reaction that affects many parts of the body all at the same time and it typically begins within minutes after an allergen is introduced to the body, this severe allergic reaction can cause the body’s vessels all over the body to dilate, in other words they open all the way up and cause anaphylactic shock, the full opening of the blood vessels causes a sudden drop in the blood pressure and the brain and the other vital organs become oxygen starved, anaphylactic shock will cause death if it’s not treated, now the treatment is epinephrine which helps constrict the blood vessels and open the airways, now the most common things that cause anaphylaxis are foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, eggs, and milk, biting or stinging insects such as bees latex and medications. Now food is generally the most common cause of anaphylaxis with peanuts being the most common cause of fast severe and life-threatening reactions because severe nut allergies tend to affect children, a lot of fear is associated with nut allergies, it has become a very popular and emotional topic, this is the reason that many schools, airlines, food manufacturers and other places have become nut free zones but more effective than banning nuts completely, there are precautions public facilities can and should practice such as having nut free tables at lunch for children to eat, most importantly children need to be taught what foods to avoid, children with allergies need to carry an EpiPen.

Schools, daycares, camps and other places that typically serve food to children should have epi pens for emergencies, now preventing an emergency is the best but if an emergency happens, you need to know how to recognize it and be prepared to handle it, the following signs and symptoms would indicate a person is going into anaphylactic shock; trouble breathing, wheezing, tightness of the throat, an itch enos on the tongue, swelling of the face, eyes, lips, hives itching, flushed or pale skin, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure, maybe they have nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, dizziness, fainting or eventually unconsciousness. Children may describe their symptoms in the following way though they may say things like it feels like something’s poking my tongue or my tongue is tingling, my mouth pitches my tongue, feels like there’s hair on it, my mouth feels funny, there’s something stuck in my throat, they might say things like my lips feel tight, or my body feels weird all over and if you recognize any of the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, don’t wait for signs and symptoms to get worse, call 9-1-1 immediately and if it’s available, assist with or administer an auto injectable epinephrine such as an EpiPen, keep the person calm, have them sit down and be in a position of comfort.
While you’re waiting for the ambulance, let them sit in a position that’s easiest for them to breathe, typically this is sitting up and leaning forward and if the person feels faint or is not fully conscious, lie them down, elevate their legs and keep the person warm, talk to them, reassure them and keep the person’s airway open while monitoring their breathing and be prepared to start CPR if the person stops breathing and becomes unresponsive, it is possible for a reaction to happen again after the initial reaction so most people should be really cautious and be observed during the following four to six hours after they had their first initial event, remember the best way to help somebody in an anaphylactic reaction is to recognize their signs and symptoms early, activate EMS calling 9-1-1 or a code and then assisting them with their EpiPen to reverse their symptoms and help save their life.

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