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First Aid: Allergic Reactions

First Aid: Allergic Reactions

First Aid

Allergic reactions can be triggered by foods, medicines, pets, insect stings, pollen, and other things. Most allergic reactions aren't serious. But severe reactions can be life-threatening and need immediate medical care.

Signs and Symptoms

Mild:

  • itching
  • skin redness
  • slight swelling
  • stuffy, runny nose
  • sneezing
  • itchy, watery eyes
  • red bumps (hives) anywhere on the body

Severe:

  • swelling of the mouth or tongue
  • trouble swallowing or speaking
  • wheezing or trouble breathing
  • belly pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • dizziness or fainting

What to Do

  • Contact a doctor if your child has an allergic reaction that is more than mild or concerns you.
  • If the symptoms are mild, give an antihistamine by mouth such as diphenhydramine (such as Benadryl).
  • If the symptoms are severe and you have injectable epinephrine (such as EpiPen), use it as directed right away and call 911 for emergency medical help.

Think Prevention!

Help kids avoid anything they're allergic to, and keep an oral antihistamine available.

If your child has a severe allergy or has had a severe reaction, be sure the injectable epinephrine is on-hand at all times (including at school). You, your child (if old enough), and anyone who cares for your child know how to use it.

Reviewed by: Kate M. Cronan, MD
Date reviewed: 2018-04-27