Signs and symptoms of allergy and anaphylaxis
Even if symptoms of an allergic reaction are mild to moderate, they can develop into anaphylaxis. Mild to moderate symptoms of an allergic reaction can include:
- swelling of lips, face or eyes
- hives or welts on the skin
- abdominal pain or vomiting (these can also be signs of a severe allergic reaction to insect bites or stings).
Symptoms of anaphylaxis are potentially life-threatening and include any one of the following:
- difficult or noisy breathing
- swelling of the tongue
- swelling or tightness of the throat
- difficulty talking or a hoarse voice
- wheeze or persistent cough
- persistent dizziness and/or collapse
- being pale and floppy (in young children).
Severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) require immediate life-saving medicine called adrenaline (also called epinephrine). Read more about this medicine below.
ASCIA action plans
The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) provide action plans for anaphylaxis.
An ASCIA action plan for anaphylaxis must be completed and signed by a treating doctor or nurse practitioner.
Your child’s class teacher and any other support staff who are involved with first aid management must read and know how to follow the anaphylaxis action plan and how to give emergency medicine.
Anaphylaxis emergency medicine
Adrenaline (also called epinephrine) is an emergency medicine given via an easy-to-use auto-injector device, such as an EpiPen. The medicine is given as part of an anaphylaxis action plan.
If your child has a serious allergy, or anaphylaxis, you must have an adrenaline auto-injector for use at home and one that is always kept at school. These should be stored safely with a copy of the anaphylaxis action plan.
Use of expired adrenaline auto-injectors
Supply shortages of adrenaline (epinephrine) auto-injectors have occurred in Australia.
All adrenaline auto-injectors will have their expiry clearly shown on the device. It is always best to use an in-date auto-injector. However, in an anaphylaxis emergency, if no in-date device is available, using a recently expired adrenaline autoinjector is better than not using one at all.
Research suggests that recently expired auto-injectors still work. If the medicine is discoloured or cloudy, use an alternative device if easily accessible. If there is no other option then use the cloudy or discoloured medicine.
For current information about adrenaline auto-injector supplies, talk to your pharmacist.
You can also call NPS MedicineWise Medicines Line for information about medicines.
Call 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) from anywhere in Australia.
Hours of operation: Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm AET (excluding NSW public holidays).