What is an anaphylactic shock?
Anaphylactic shock is a severe allergic reaction and is therefore also called allergic shock. It starts with your baby's immune system mistakenly responding to a harmless substance as if it were dangerous. The body then releases various antibodies, such as histamine, that express themselves quickly and sometimes life-threateningly:
- Nesselauschlag (fever) and swollen skin, lips or face
- Wheezing or heavy breathing, narrowing of the respiratory tract
- Raging pulse, drop in blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia
- Cold sweat
- Dizziness, fainting, disturbance of consciousness, weakness
- Nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea
- Extremely pale skin
- to circulatory collapse and death
How often does anaphylactic shock occur in children?
Such serious reactions are very rare in children. It is more likely that the allergy shows up as Nesselauschlag. Nevertheless, allergies are always unpredictable and some children who have previously shown only mild reactions may develop serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing or wheezing.
The risk to your child is greater if you have had a severe allergic attack or have asthma or other allergies. If your child has had a severe allergic attack, the risk is less than 10 percent that it will recur within a year (Resuscitation Council UK 2008). And it is quite certain that anaphylactic shock only ends fatally in the very rare cases (Resuscitation Council UK 2008).
Babies under half a year usually have no anaphylactic shock, because allergies must first develop. Nevertheless, it can happen in rare cases.
Which substances can trigger a severe allergic reaction?
Many different substances are considered for an allergic shock. In small children, the most common triggers are peanuts and other nuts, milk, fish or eggs (Resuscitation Council UK 2008). Less frequently, medications such as antibiotics, bee and wasp stings or latex are the trigger.
What should I do if my baby is threatened with an allergic shock?
Call the ambulance immediately if your baby has trouble breathing or fainting. Until the doctor comes, you can do the following:
- Lay the baby flat on the floor, feet slightly raised.
- Calm your baby by talking to him and keep calm.
- Do not try to induce vomiting if the shock is caused by food.
- Do not feed your child or give him anything to drink.
- If your baby has been stung by an insect, do not try to pull out the sting (if the bee or wasp venom is in the bloodstream of your baby then removing the sting will not prevent the allergic reaction) .
- If your child faints but is breathing, put him in a stable side position. Lay it on its side, supported by one arm and one leg. Lift the chin to open the airways (Resuscitation Council UK 2008). If the respiration or the heart stops, then you provide first aid against suffocation.
How is the anaphylactic shock treated?
When the ambulance arrives, your child is first treated on the spot by the emergency doctor gives him an adrenaline injection. This stops the reaction within three minutes, the child can breathe again, the blood pressure drops, the swelling goes back. Even so, the baby might need to go to the hospital - the cause of the allergic reaction must be sought, especially if it's first time. You should also talk to your doctor, who can refer you to an allergist.
How can I protect my child from anaphylactic shock?
The best precaution is to avoid all substances that can trigger an allergy. If your baby is allergic to certain foods, then you must read the labels carefully and ask the restaurant or friends if there are allergens in the dish.
If insect bites cause the reaction, then you're looking for insect-free places for your child to play with. Do not rely on insect repellent: For example, they do not keep bees away from which children are often stung. Do not let your baby or toddler wade barefoot through the garden. Many children are stung because they accidentally step on an insect. During the wasp flight, do not eat fruits, cakes (sometimes meat) in the open air and you should not use perfume if possible.
If your child has had a severe allergic reaction, your doctor will probably refer it to an allergy specialist. He may recommend that you always carry an adrenaline injection and will show you how to use it. Even if you are unsure if it is anaphylactic shock - do not wait until all symptoms are fully developed - give the injection directly. It could save your child's life. And even if your child recovers quickly after the injection and everything seems normal again, call your doctor's office immediately. As a precaution, your child should be re-examined and the incident should be recorded in the patient record.
Adrenaline is only available on prescription. The caregivers in the nursery should also have a set. In addition, it makes sense to have a replacement set in your handbag or coat jacket, as allergic reactions can occur anytime, anywhere. (In the car you should not keep a set because adrenaline can not handle heat.)
NHS. In 2009. anaphylaxis, NHS Choices, Health A-Z. www.nhs.uk [as of March 2017]
Resuscitation Council (UK). Of 2008. Emergency treatment of anaphylactic reactions - guidelines for healthcare providers, www.resus.org.uk [as of March 2017]