Do you or a member of your family have an allergy?
The most common triggers for allergic reactions are dust mites, mould, pets and pollen. Food, insect stings, medicines and latex can also cause allergic reactions. In some cases allergic reactions can be severe and potentially life threatening.
Whether your allergy is mild or severe, Allergy New Zealand can help you manage it so it doesn’t hinder your quality of life.
For those who are at risk of a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, a MedicAlert bracelet is essential.
Anaphylaxis – the most severe form of allergic reaction
Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of allergic reaction, often involving either difficulty in breathing and/or a sudden drop in blood pressure. Symptoms usually develop rapidly, within five minutes of being exposed to an allergic trigger, and typically happen within 30 minutes.
The symptoms of anaphylaxis can include a combination of some of the following:
- Swelling of the throat and mouth
- Difficulty in swallowing or speaking
- Alterations in heart rate
- Wheeze or persistent cough
- Abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
- Sense of impending doom
- Sudden feeling of weakness (drop in blood pressure)
- Collapse and unconsciousness
- Palor and floppiness (in young children)
You would not necessarily experience all of these symptoms. In same cases, anaphylaxis is preceded by less dangerous allergic symptoms, which can include:
· Swelling of the face, lips and eyes
· Hives or welts on the skin
· Stomach pain, vomiting
Prompt treatment is vital
Adrenaline is the recommended first aid drug for anaphylaxis, and it must be administered within the first five minutes of a reaction in order to be effective. Although deaths from anaphylaxis are rare, those who have died have either not been given adrenaline, or it has been administered too late.
Wearing a MedicAlert bracelet is vital
If you are at risk of anaphylaxis, you need to wear a MedicAlert bracelet. This is the recommendation of the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, the peak professional body of allergists and immunologists in New Zealand and Australia.
Anaphylaxis can sometimes be mistaken for asthma or cardiac arrest and as a result adrenaline is not administered, sometimes with fatal results. A MedicAlert bracelet helps ensure you get prompt and appropriate treatment.
If you are allergic to a particular medicine, for example penicillin, a MedicAlert bracelet can help reduce the risk of being administered a drug you are allergic to, particularly if you are in an emergency situation and cannot communicate. Similarly if you are allergic to latex, a MedicAlert bracelet will alert paramedics, emergency and other medical personnel to the need to avoid using latex gloves and equipment when providing you with treatment for any reason.
In addition to wearing a MedicAlert bracelet, you should carry your adrenaline on you along with an Anaphylaxis Action Plan, which outlines how and when adrenaline should be administered.
Who needs a MedicAlert bracelet?
Anyone at risk of anaphylaxis – no matter what the trigger – should wear a MedicAlert bracelet. The most common causes of anaphylaxis include foods such as peanuts, tree nuts (eg almond, cashew, pistachio, brazil, pine nuts), sesame seeds, fish, shell fish, dairy products and eggs. However, many other foods can also cause severe reactions.
Non-food causes include wasp or bee stings, natural latex (rubber), penicillin or any other drug or injection.
In some people, exercise can trigger a severe reaction – either on its own or in combination with other factors such as food or drugs eg aspirin. Exposure to cold (usually cold water) can also trigger anaphylaxis.
If you have asthma as well as allergies, you may be at a higher risk of anaphylaxis and a MedicAlert bracelet is appropriate for you.
Consult your GP or specialist if you have ever had an anaphylactic reaction or are concerned about your allergies. Your doctor or specialist will be able to advise on whether you should wear a MedicAlert bracelet.
For more information, contact Allergy New Zealand Phone: 0800 34 0800 or 09 623 3912