In some children, exposure to specific allergens can cause the life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis. Allergens that cause this reaction can be found in certain medications, insect stings, or foods.
If you’ve been told your child is at risk of anaphylaxis or you’ve seen them experience it first-hand, you must take precautions to prevent it and react quickly if this dangerous allergic reaction should happen. At First Pediatric Care Center in Gastonia, North Carolina, pediatrician Margaret Lubega, MD, evaluates your child’s allergy status and offers an allergy management plan, especially if anaphylaxis is a possibility. In some cases, you may not even know anaphylaxis is a threat until a reaction occurs.
When you’re fully informed about what anaphylaxis means for your child and their health, you’re in a better position to deal with it. Dr. Lubega shares more to help you develop a better understanding of anaphylaxis.
Why do some children experience anaphylaxis?
Your child’s immune system is designed to protect them from potentially dangerous foreign substances. When that immune system goes haywire, it overreacts when it comes into contact with what it perceives to be a possibly threatening substance. It produces such a severe immune response that it threatens your child’s health.
What types of substances can cause anaphylaxis?
Not every child is at risk of anaphylaxis. Only some have serious reactions to substances such as:
- Tree nuts
- Insect stings
- Fish and shellfish
In some children, vigorous exercise and latex can prompt a severe immune reaction.
What are the symptoms of anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis may start like other allergic reactions, with itching of the eyes or face. But symptoms progress quickly -- within minutes -- of exposure to the allergen. Anaphylaxis can then cause swelling of the throat, lips, and tongue, compromising your child’s ability to breathe. Your child may have difficulty swallowing and develop hives. Their skin may look red and warm to the touch.
An increased heart rate, sudden drop in blood pressure, nausea and vomiting, and swelling throughout the body follow.
Without immediate medical attention, this anaphylactic reaction can lead to shock and unconsciousness. If your child starts to show the initial signs of anaphylaxis, call 911 right away.
Don’t delay by calling our office first. We can help with follow-up and future allergy management.
How do I prevent anaphylaxis?
An allergy management plan prevents anaphylactic reactions. In many cases, you won’t know your child is at risk of the reaction until it’s happened, however. But, if Dr. Lubega has alerted you that your child has a severe allergy that may result in an anaphylactic reaction, she’ll prescribe injectable epinephrine (EpiPenⓇ) to counter the reaction.
You and your child, provided they’re old enough, will be educated on how to administer the injection. Dr. Lubega will also suggest you alert schools, childcare, and other care providers about your child’s allergy and give them access to the medication as well.
Of course, the best way to avoid an anaphylactic reaction is to steer clear of relevant allergens. You may need to adapt your child’s diet and alert other healthcare providers about latex or medication reactions. Schools are extremely sensitive to these allergies and can assign your child to certain classrooms or tables so they aren’t exposed. Dr. Lubega can tell you how to explain the situation to those who come in contact with your child, and she’ll fill out any necessary forms and releases.
Anaphylaxis is scary, but when you have support from us, you’re better equipped to protect your child and manage the reaction, if it should occur. If you suspect your child has allergies – severe or mild -- call First Pediatric Care Center or schedule a consultation online to learn how to best manage your child’s symptoms.