Anaphylaxis - What is it and How is it Treated?

Anaphylaxis is a sudden and dangerous body reaction that involves two or more organ systems. An allergy to some substance such as a certain food, insect bite, latex or medication causes the reaction. This may be something that has or has not caused any symptoms in the past. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening medical emergency. Waiting to get to an emergency room can be fatal.

Epinephrine injection is a life-saving medication. It slows the anaphylactic reaction. The benefit of a dose of epinephrine only lasts 15-20 minutes. If epinephrine is given – ALWAYS CALL 911. A second dose may be needed and would be given in the ambulance or at the emergency room.  Each staff member or child with a known medical condition should have a current emergency action plan. The plan should be easily accessible. For more information, see the Health Link articles “Anaphylaxis-What is It?” and “Food Allergies and Asthma.” Health Link articles are on the ECELS website. Put the title of the article in the search box located on the home page.

Be sure to get instruction from a health care provider about how and when to use auto-injectors or any other special procedures. A child’s parent may know what to do for their child’s condition. However, few parents are skilled health educators. Instruction should include showing a health professional that you can do the procedure correctly. Contact the child’s health care provider, ECELS (800-243-2357, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or your PA Early Learning Resource Center to locate a health professional to provide instruction.
Use the online self-learning modules about Food Allergy or Asthma to learn more about these important topics. These self-learning modules offer 2 hours of PA Keys credit.  Reviewed and reaffirmed 7/2021