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 by: News Canada

(NC)-Food allergies are becoming more prevalent every day. Severe reactions can be life threatening if not treated immediately. In many cases, a dangerous breathing condition called anaphylaxis (an-a-fi-lak-sis) can result when a substance to which the casualty is very sensitive enters the body.

Anaphylaxis can happen within seconds, minutes or even hours of a substance entering the body. As a rule, the sooner the casualty's body reacts, the worse the reaction will be.

St. John Ambulance, Canada's leader in safety-oriented™ first aid training and products, advises that you can detect anaphylaxis and help the casualty, if you know what to do.

Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis

  1. Itchy, flushed skin, raised skin rash (hives).

  2. Sneezing, running nose and watery eyes.

  3. Swelling of the airway.

  4. A 'lump' or 'tickle' in the throat that won't go away.

  5. Coughing.

  6. Sense of impending doom.

  7. Nausea and vomiting.

As the condition worsens, a casualty may experience:

  1. Pale skin.

  2. Anxiety and/or a severe headache.

  3. Wheezing and breathing difficulties, coughing.

  4. Irregular and rapid pulse.

  5. Swelling of lips, tongue, throat, hands and feet.

  6. Shock.

  7. Unconsciousness followed by stopped breathing and heart.

First aid for a severe allergic reaction

When a casualty experiences a severe allergic reaction, they are in a life-threatening situation.

  1. Assess the individual and immediately call for medical help.

  2. Stop any activity and place the casualty in the most comfortable position for breathing - usually sitting upright.

  3. Some people with known allergies carry medication in the event of an attack. If the individual has prescribed medicine with them, help them take a correct dosage.

  4. Stay with the casualty until medical help takes over. Monitor vital signs and try to calm and reassure the casualty, as fear and anxiety will make the condition worse.

Knowing what to do can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency. St. John Ambulance offers a wide range of programs, customized for all walks of life and skill levels. Learn what you need to know from Canada's leader in first aid for more than 118 years. Contact the St. John Ambulance office nearest you or look us up on the Internet at

About The Author

News Canada provides a wide selection of current, ready-to-use copyright free news stories and ideas for Television, Print, Radio, and the Web.

News Canada is a niche service in public relations, offering access to print, radio, television, and now the Internet media, with ready-to-use, editorial "fill" items. Monitoring and analysis are two more of our primary services. The service supplies access to the national media for marketers in the private, the public, and the not-for-profit sectors. Your corporate and product news, consumer tips and information are packaged in a variety of ready-to-use formats and are made available to every Canadian media organization including weekly and daily newspapers, cable and commercial television stations, radio stations, as well as the Web sites Canadians visit most often. Visit News Canada and learn more about the NC services.

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