Updated 29 May 2017

When allergies cause anaphylaxis

Certain foods, medications and insect stings can cause a severe allergic reaction, which is called anaphylaxis.


Some of the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis include coughing, wheezing, swelling of the face, lips and tongue, an itchy rash and bumps, dizziness and anxiety. So what should you do if this happens to someone close to you?

Take action:

  • Get the person to a hospital – anaphylaxis can kill
  • While the person is still conscious, ask them what they are allergic to and whether they are carrying any medication with them
  • Help them to use their medication
  • Help them into a sitting position, as it eases breathing
  • Give the person an antihistamine tablet if one is available
  • Administer mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, or CPR, if the person becomes unconscious.

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Dr Morris is the Principal Allergist at the Cape Town and Johannesburg Allergy Clinics with postgraduate diplomas in Allergology, Dermatology, Paediatrics and Family Medicine dealing with both adult and childhood allergies.

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