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My child's friend has Anaphylaxis: How can I help?

If you have not had experience with Anaphylaxis it can be daunting. Learn what you can and help keep sufferers safe.

If you or your children become friends with someone that has the potential to become Anaphylactic, do not despair, withhold invitations or withdraw your friendship. Support them by talking with them, asking for food ideas and learning about Allergies, Anaphylaxis and Asthma triggers. 

So, what is Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is the severest form of allergy and is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Anaphylaxis has the potential to be fatal.

The most common allergens are foods and insect stings. And the top 8 food allergens are: 

  • shellfish
  • eggs
  • fish
  • dairy
  • peanuts
  • soybeans
  • tree nuts
  • sesame seeds

What should you know?

To manage anaphylaxis you should know:

  • How to recognise the symptoms of anaphylaxis
  • What action should be taken in the event of an anaphylaxis emergency
  • Who the friend is
  • What the friends allergies are
  • The contact details for the friends parents, should you wish to double check food or action plans with them

How do you recognise the symptoms of anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a generalised whole body allergic reaction. Characteristically there are either respiratory and or cardiovascular signs:

Respiratory

  • Difficulty/noisy breathing
  • Wheeze or persistent cough - which can often mimic asthma
  • Difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice
  • Swelling of tongue/throat that poses an immediate risk of airway closure with inability to breathe.

Cardiovascular

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Collapse
  • Pale & floppy - particularly in young children
  • Loss of pulse

Other body systems may be involved such as

  • The skin - which may develop hives or welts
  • The gastrointestinal system - which may include abdominal pain, nausea and/or vomiting.

What action should you take in the event of an emergency?

Essentially in the event of anaphylaxis you must:

  • Seek help and
  • Administer adrenaline.

Action to be taken

  • Administer Epipen Adrenaline Auto Injector
  • Ring 000
  • Request an intensive care Ambulance and state:
    • The Child is anaphylactic and has had adrenaline injected
    • Keep the child warm and calm & wait for an ambulance

 

What can you do to support your child's friend?

These are just some suggestions:

  • Meet with/call the friends parents and discuss the allergy and emergency action plan. This only takes a few minutes and will also help to re-assume the friends parents that their child will be safe.
  • Discuss the friends allergy with your child. Suggestions include
    • Not sharing food
    • Washing their hands after eating
    • Thinking of alternative foods/activities that would keep their friend sage
    • Recognising allergy bullying and helping to stop it
    • Consider non-food based presents/party bags/activities - e.g. pencils, stickers, park play dates instead of dinner
  • Assist with allergen avoidance.
  • Include the friend in activities. Both your child and the friend will be delighted and most of the time the allergy child can manage themselves and wont be any extra burden than a regular child.
  • Consider learning how to use the EpiPen by completing the ASCIA Anaphylaxis e-training first aid course

Do you have more suggestions, please make them in the comments below and we will incorporate them in!

(Some of this data is taken from ASEHA QLD and re-printed with permission)


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