First aid

16 January 2015

Treating anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis in an emergency situation that requires urgent treatment with epinephrine.


Anaphylaxis is an emergency condition that requires immediate medical attention.

CPR should be initiated if the individual is not breathing.

Epinephrine is a medication used to treat severe allergic reactions that can result in anaphylaxis. Administering the epinephrine as soon as possible improves the chances of survival and a quick recovery. Epinephrine opens the airways and raises the blood pressure by constricting blood vessels. Patients may also be admitted to the hospital to have their blood pressure monitored and possibly to receive breathing support.

Other emergency interventions may also include endotracheal intubation (placing a tube through the nose or mouth into the airway) or emergency surgery to place a tube directly into the trachea (tracheostomy or cricothyrotomy).

Hypotension is usually treated with intravenous fluids and sometimes with vasoconstrictive medications also referred to as "pressors."

Bronchodilator drugs like Salbutamol© (known as Albuterol© in the United States) are used to treat bronchospasm.

After epinephrine are other lifesaving measures are taken, antihistamines (like diphenhydramine) and corticosteroids (like prednisone) may be given to further reduce symptoms.

Individuals with a history of anaphylaxis should carry an autoinjectable epinephrine device (known as an EpiPen©) with them at all times.


Anaphylaxis is considered a medical emergency that requires immediate medical care. Therefore, complementary and alternative therapies should not be used in place of conventional medicine when an individual has an anaphylactic reaction.


This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (

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  • MedlinePlus. Anaphylaxis.
  • Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. Copyright © 2008.
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  • Sussman GL, Beezhold DH. Allergy to latex rubber. Annals of Internal Medicine 122 (1): 43-6. 1995.
  • The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.
  • Valentine, M.D. Anaphylaxis and Stinging Insect Hypersensitivity. Journal of the American Medical Association. (1992) 268:2830-2833.


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