Prepare for Allergy Awareness Week with St Andrew’s First Aid

Scotland’s leading First Aid charity, St Andrew’s First Aid, wants to ensure you and your loved ones know how to act in an anaphylaxis emergency as part of Allergy Awareness Week.

Allergy Awareness Week runs from 28th April until 4th May and aims to raise awareness of the issues those with allergies face.

21 million people, about a third of the UK’s population, are currently allergy sufferers but allergies can affect everyone and can strike at any time. They range from common reactions to pollen and dust, to rarer and more serious allergies such as those to peanuts and shellfish which can lead to anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis is the name given to a severe allergic reaction that needs immediate medical attention. In its most serious form it can be life-threatening. Anaphylaxis can be characterised by the appearance of hives or a red, itchy skin rash, swelling of the affected area and breathing difficulties.

Where serious allergic reactions are diagnosed, Epinephrine is the prescribed medication and is administered using either an Epi- or Ana-pen, auto-injector pens which deliver the medicine.

Operations Director for St Andrew’s First Aid, Jim Dorman, explained,

“In a crisis, First Aid can make the difference between a life lost and life saved and it is vital that it is delivered with confidence. If you suspect an allergic reaction, ask if the casualty is carrying any prescribed medication such as antihistamines or Epinephrine. If they do, ask its location and allow them to self-administer where possible. If necessary, Epinephrine should be administered on the outer side of the thigh, which should take 10 seconds to complete, with a further 10 seconds to rub the injected thigh area. If the casualty is pregnant and needs to lie down, lean towards the left side to prevent the baby restricting blood flow back to the heart. If the casualty loses consciousness, make sure the airway is open and check their breathing.

“It is essential to ease the casualty’s breathing and treat them for shock, as well as arranging immediate medical attention if the reaction is serious.

“If there is someone with a serious allergy in your workplace, community club or even simply your family, St Andrew’s First Aid recommends a comprehensive Treating Allergies course, the content of which includes the causes of anaphylaxis, recognition of its symptoms and how to treat it, as well as covering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).”

For more information on anaphylaxis or to download a free First Aid advice card, please click here, or to book a Treating Allergies course, please click here.

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