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Spring is in the Air, So are Allergic Reactions

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04/01/2008 - Spring is a great time of the year. Everyone focuses on warmer temperatures for outdoor activities, including yard work to create new life in gardens, planting shrubs and grass, throwing down fertilizer and pesticides, etc.. It also brings out new life in wildlife bees, spiders, snakes, and other various critters, both at work and home.

With all this new activity and life, the opportunity to experience a severe allergic reaction to something increases greatly. Knowing the signs and symptoms of a killer type of shock is critical to you and your family's well-being. This condition is known as, "Anaphylaxis." The "English" version of that is, "Severe Allergic Reaction."

Anaphylaxis (ana-fi-lacks-is) is a life-threatening condition. It occurs from exposure to allergens (foreign masses) that cause your body to release histimine within the body. This can be through inhalation of pollen, ingestion of food items, skin contact with poison ivy or poison oak, or injection from stings and bites. When the body reaches its "saturation limit" with the allergen, it triggers a series of events that, in a matter of 5-15 minutes, can cause death!

Signs and Symptoms of Anaphylaxis include:


-redness or rash developing on skin

-burning, itchy sensation on palms and bottom of feet

-swelling of the fingers and/or toes

-swelling of the tongue (up to 3x normal size)

-closing of the trachea and bronchial tubes (airway passages)

The swelling of the tongue and closing off of the bronchi causes asphyxiation, causing death. All of this can occur within 5-15 minutes of the exposure.

Treatment can only be by a shot of epinephrine (adrenaline) from an outside source. This can be from an advanced life support provider (paramedic, or EMT-I), a physician, or through an already-prescribed dose of personal medication. In other words, unless this drug is readily available under prescription or trained emergency responders, there is no other means to treat Anaphylaxis.

Response to Anaphylaxis requires the immediate calling of 9-1-1, advising the dispatcher that you have a person experiencing a severe allergic reaction. This instantly directs the dispatcher to "tone out" an advanced life support rescue unit to respond. The dispatcher may ask if you can take the patient and meet the ambulance somewhere to reduce the response time. At this point, time is critical and is all you have to get the life-saving measures needed.

If you live within a few (under 10) minutes of a physician or hospital and can immediately transport the person, then do so. Upon arriving, do not hesitate to tell them you have a life-threatening emergency.

Spring is a great time of the year as we are coming out of the winter's chill. With it, however, comes risks that we have to look out for. Anaphylaxis is a real life-threatening emergency that can strike at any time. If anyone suspects that this condition can develop, don't wait! Knowing the risks, knowing what to look for, and knowing how to respond to Anaphylaxis can save a life!

Randy DeVaul is an internationally published writer and author and founder of the first general member home safety website (www.safeathomeonline.com). With more than 25 years in safety and emergency response services, he has written three performance-based safety books and preparing to release his next book, Being Safe At Home: Surviving the Hazards of Living in Your Home. Comments welcome at safetypro@roadrunner.com.

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