Anaphylaxis in Children
What is anaphylaxis in
Anaphylaxis is a severe,
life-threatening reaction to an allergen. An allergen is something that your child is
allergic to. Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. Your child can have a reaction to an
allergen within seconds or as long as an hour after contact.
What causes anaphylaxis in a
Anaphylaxis happens when a child comes in contact with an allergen. The kind of
allergen may be different for every child. Some of the most common causes include:
- Dyes used for medical tests
Which children are at risk for
Anaphylaxis can happen in people without known risk factors. But the risk is greater if
your child has:
family history of anaphylaxis
What are the symptoms of
anaphylaxis in a child?
Symptoms most often appear quickly. Anaphylaxis may happen in seconds, minutes, or
hours after being exposed to an allergen. Symptoms may include:
- Tightness or swelling of the throat, tongue, or uvula. The uvula is the small, soft
pendulum that hangs down in the back of your child's throat.
or trouble breathing
feeling or agitation, a feeling of impending doom
- Widespread hives
itching of the skin
- Irregular heartbeat
- Loss of
symptoms of anaphylaxis may look like other health problems. Always talk with your
child’s healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
How is anaphylaxis diagnosed in a
doctor can often diagnose anaphylaxis based on a health history alone. The healthcare
provider will look at the following to make a diagnosis:
to known or possible allergens
- Description of symptoms
exam, including blood pressure
test results, in some cases
How is anaphylaxis treated in a
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency.
Your child will need urgent medical care. He or she will likely get a shot of
epinephrine. This will help stop the bad effects caused by the allergen. Epinephrine
given shortly after the exposure can reverse the symptoms. After the treatment, your
child will need to be watched to make sure that they are not having any further
reactions. Your healthcare provider can teach you how to use an epinephrine autoinjector
in case there is another exposure. You should keep 2 epinephrine autoinjectors with
your child in case of future events. Talk about this with your child’s healthcare
What can I do to prevent
anaphylaxis in my child?
The best way to prevent anaphylaxis is
to have your child stay away from known allergy triggers. For a bee sting allergy (venom
allergy) there is treatment available to help prevent future allergic reactions. Talk
with your child's healthcare provider about this treatment.
How can I help my child live with
If your child has anaphylaxis, you
will want to cut the risk of future episodes. You can do this by figuring out the
allergen that triggered the first episode. Then you can stay away from the trigger. Your
healthcare provider may also prescribe an epinephrine autoinjector. He or she will teach
you how to use it. You can give the shot quickly if your child has another episode.
Key points about anaphylaxis in a
- Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening reaction to an allergen.
- Anaphylaxis is caused by allergies to things such as foods, medicines, bee stings,
allergy shots, and latex.
of anaphylaxis include tightness or swelling of the throat, tongue, or uvula. Also
trouble breathing, hives, itching, nausea and vomiting, irregular heartbeat, and
loss of bladder control.
- Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. Treatment will likely include a shot of
- The best
way to prevent anaphylaxis is to stay away from known allergy triggers.
- If your child has had anaphylaxis you may be prescribed an
epinephrine autoinjector. Keep 2 epinephrine autoinjectors with your child at all
times in case of a future event.
to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
the reason for your visit and what you want to happen.
your visit, write down questions you want answered.
someone with you to help you ask questions and remember what your provider tells
- At the
visit, write down the name of a new diagnosis, and any new medicines, treatments, or
tests. Also write down any new instructions your provider gives you.
why a new medicine or treatment is prescribed, and how it will help you. Also know
what the side effects are.
- Ask if
your condition can be treated in other ways.
why a test or procedure is recommended and what the results could mean.
what to expect if you do not take the medicine or have the test or procedure.
- If you
have a follow-up appointment, write down the date, time, and purpose for that
- Know how
you can contact your provider if you have questions.
Online Medical Reviewer:
Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC
Online Medical Reviewer:
Deborah Pedersen MD
Date Last Reviewed:
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