Allergies affect many people. Allergy symptoms can affect several areas of the body, and these symptoms may cause death. ANAPHYLAXIS means the symptoms put the person at risk of breathing and circulation problems. Food allergies are the most common allergy, although there are other allergens– insect stings, medications, or latex. Very rarely, anaphylaxis can occur without a known trigger.


Common Food Allergies

The foods most likely to cause a severe allergic reaction are peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish. Although nearly any food can cause an allergic reaction, only eight foods account for 90 percent of all food-allergic reactions in the United States. These foods are:

Peanuts             Tree nuts              Milk                    Eggs

Wheat          Soy                        Fish            Shellfish

People who have both ASTHMA and a FOOD ALLERGY are at greater risk for ANAPHYLAXIS. They should avoid the problem foods; this is the only way to prevent anaphylaxis, although researchers are working on preventive therapies.


Learn all you can about avoiding allergens. Read food labels carefully and do not hesitate to ask questions when eating away from home. Being aware is your first line of defense against anaphylaxis.

  • Have your medication with you wherever you go.
  • Talk to your allergist about when and how to use emergency medications.
  • Make sure prescriptions are up-to-date.
  • Wear medical identification (e.g., bracelets, other jewelry) at all times.
  • Do not delay using your epinephrine while waiting to see if your symptoms improve! Use your emergency medications as prescribed.
  • Get to an emergency room for evaluation and further treatment right away –- even if your medication has stopped the reaction.
  • Epinephrine is not a “foolproof” treatment. Do not take chances by eating a problem food.

 (About anaphylaxis, 2013)

Helpful Websites

About anaphylaxis. (2013). Retrieved from FARE Food Allergy Research & Education :

Symptoms of Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis often begins within minutes after a person eats a problem food. Less commonly, symptoms may begin hours later. About 25 percent of patients have a second wave of symptoms one to several hours after their initial symptoms have subsided.

Anaphylaxis is likely to occur when any ONE of the following happens within minutes to hours after eating a food allergen:

1.  A person has symptoms that involve the skin, nose, mouth, or gastrointestinal tract and either:

  • Difficulty breathing, or
  • Reduced blood pressure (e.g., pale, weak pulse, confusion, loss of consciousness)

2.  A person was exposed to a suspected allergen, and two or more of the following occur:

  • Skin symptoms or swollen lips
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea, or cramping)

3. A person was exposed to a known allergen, and experiences:

  • Reduced blood pressure, leading to weakness or fainting

 (About anaphylaxis, 2013)


Treating Anaphylaxis

All caretakers of a child who has severe reactions should know how to use an Epi Pen (Epinephrine in an auto-injector). Remember, your child is one of thousands of children with an allergy. Everyone in the family should learn how to use the Epi Pen and know to call 911. Take time to read the instructions in the Epi Pen package carefully and practice using the training device provided by the manufacturer. Check out the manufacturer’s website to see if a training video is available. Learning what to do and how to do it will help you be prepared when anaphylaxis occurs.  (About anaphylaxis, 2013)


One thing to remember is that epinephrine expires after a certain period (usually a year). Be sure to check the expiration date and renew your prescription in time. Even though you may never need to take your medication, it is important to have it ready for use at all times. (Allergists generally recommend that if you have an anaphylactic reaction and your epinephrine has expired, you should use the auto-injector anyway and, as always, call 911 for help immediately.)   (About anaphylaxis, 2013)


Websites on Allergies

About anaphylaxis. (2013). Retrieved from FARE Food Allergy Research & Education :

Information on Insect Allergies

Information on Latex Allergies


Paperwork Needed for School If your Child has an Allergy




Doctor’s order form for Epi-Pen

Benadryl (not every child will have a Benadryl order)