Severe allergic reactions: What to do if your child goes into anaphylactic shock

A mum has issued a warning to other parents after witnessing her child’s anaphylactic shock due to an allergic reaction [Photo: Getty]
A mum has issued a warning to other parents after witnessing her child’s anaphylactic shock due to an allergic reaction [Photo: Getty]

You might know what to do if your child suddenly started choking or has stuck something up his or her nose, but what if your little one has a severe allergic reaction? Chances are, unless you’ve been specifically taught about anaphylactic shock before, you won’t have a clue what to do.

One mum wants to try and educate parents about what anaphylactic shock looks like so they know how to cope with it.

Julie Ferrier Berghaus took to Facebook to share a terrifying photo of her daughter mid-anaphylactic shock.

Julie’s daughter has a cashew nut allergy and was taking part in a trial led by her allergist when she went into anaphylaxis.

Despite Julie having seen reactions before, her daughter’s response looked nothing like she’d expected.

“It was nothing like they show on TV,” she wrote. “I’ve seen allergic reactions in the hospital to medications as well, anaphylaxis didn’t look like that either.

READ MORE: 5 Signs You Could Have A Food Intolerance

Her daughter’s first symptom was itchy ears, and then she started to complain of stomach ache.

She was given a shot from her EpiPen which calmed everything for 10 minutes, but shortly begin to itch again.

“Upon inspection, her entire body was quickly breaking out in severe hives before our very eyes,” said Julie.

Despite the hives, Julie’s daughter continued to play. “It all changed moments later. They laid her down quickly, and she then started blacking out.”

Now Julie hopes to educate other parents on what anaphylaxis could look like, so they don’t delay in seeking the correct treatment.

“It was nothing like we expected to see,” she wrote. “It snuck up on us so unexpectedly and quietly. I expected to see choking, gasping, hear wheezing, and see her grabbing at her chest and neck area. I expected the entire ordeal to be very fast and obvious and dramatic.

“It was actually very silent, and she didn’t show any severe trouble until very late in the game.”

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What is anaphylactic shock and what should you do if your child experiences a severe allergic reaction?

According to Allergy UK, anaphylaxis-type reactions happen in around one in 1,000 people, with peanut allergies affecting around 2% of children in the UK.

“If you think someone has gone into anaphylactic shock, it’s important to take action immediately, as this condition can be fatal,” explains Dr Clare Morrison of Medexpress.

Dr Morrison says the best known triggers include insect stings and bites, certain foods, notably nuts, shellfish, fish, fruit, milk and eggs, certain medicines, such as penicillin, and also latex.

“During anaphylactic shock the blood pressure falls, making the person feel dizzy and then collapse,” she continues.

“The airways become restricted, causing shortness of breath and wheezing. You may also notice clamminess, and swelling of the lips and face.”

If your child has a severe allergic reaction, Dr Morrison says parents should call for an ambulance straight away, and get help from those at hand.

“Ensure the child is lying down flat, and remove the trigger if possible, for example take the sting out of the skin,” she continues.

Like, Julie Ferrier Berghaus suggested in her post Dr Morrison also recommends administering an Epi pen if your child has one.

“If the child has been prescribed an adrenaline auto-injector, use this, and be prepared to repeat if after 5-15 minutes if necessary,” Dr Morrison adds.

Julie’s message to parents comes following another mother’s warning after her teenage daughter died of an allergic reaction from eating a cookie she believed to be “safe.”

Kellie Travers-Stafford of Florida, took to social media with an impassioned message to parents of children with a food allergy, warning them of what she believes is misleading packaging.

And last year, the father of a teenager who died after an allergic reaction to a Pret A Manger sandwich said he hopes his daughter’s death will help change the laws surrounding food labelling.