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    Children’s Allergic Reactions: What’s Severe?

    What You Should Know

    Many kids have allergies. As a parent, you'll want to know what to expect.

    For instance, if your child has a mild allergy, such as hay fever, you can expect symptoms such as:

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    That can make your child feel bad, but it's not life-threatening.

    But sometimes a child can have what's known as anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that needs immediate medical treatment. Many cases are caused by food allergies, medications, or insect stings.

    Do you know what to watch for?

    Anaphylaxis Symptoms

    Most anaphylactic reactions have symptoms in two or more areas of the body.

    Lungs:

    Heart and Blood Vessels

    Skin

    Mouth

    • Swelling of the throat, face, lips, or tongue

    Stomach and Digestion

    What Happens During Anaphylaxis?

    The person's airways narrow and their throat swells, which can make it hard to breathe. Their blood vessels widen, making their blood pressure fall, sometimes to dangerous levels.

    Anaphylactic reactions usually happen fast. Symptoms often become the most serious within 3 to 30 minutes of exposure to the allergy trigger. Quicker reactions are usually more severe.

    Be Prepared

    A child who has had a severe allergic reaction should carry an emergency kit that includes an epinephrine auto-injector.

    You should know how to use the injector. So should your child's teacher. Your child may also be old enough to use it on herself. Ask her doctor if she’s ready for that.

    As soon as possible after the allergic reaction starts, call 911 and give the child at least one shot of the drug. She may need more than one. Even if you are not sure the symptoms are allergy related, don’t hesitate to give her the injection. Waiting can be much more harmful than the medication.

    The injection isn’t a cure. It won’t stop a severe allergic reaction. Even if your child seems OK, emergency medical care is a must.

    Restock any items you use from the emergency kit so it's ready at all times. Like all drugs, epinephrine has an expiration date, so check the dates on each injector.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on October 19, 2015

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