Anaphylactic shock is caused when the body has a severe allergic reaction to something. This could be anything from a type of food to an insect bite. The only feasible treatment is to get a shot of adrenaline into the casualty, which helps loosens the airways and restores normal breathing. Sadly the initial signs and symptoms can get missed, which can cause the condition to be misdiagnosed. Spotting these signs can undoubtedly save a life.
One of the early warning signs of anaphylaxis is anxiety. Someone who has come into contact with their allergy may suddenly become irritable and flustered. At this stage the toxins may only just be starting to take affect and the problem can be nipped in the bud. It's a very hard symptom to spot however as anxiety and irritably can be attributed to hundreds of different conditions. This symptom is more applicable to family and close friends who know the anaphylaxis sufferer well enough to spot changes in behaviour.
As the condition starts to take a tighter grip a shift moves towards the respiratory system. Swelling can start to appear on any part of the system, which ranges from the nose & mouth down to the lungs themselves. It is not normal for this part of the body to swell in this fashion, and usually a classic sign of anaphylactic shock. When this symptom is spotted the first thing to do is have a chat with the casualty if they are still conscious. Hopefully this will lead to a quick diagnosis, and then prompt treatment can be administered.
The release of toxins into the blood stream can lead to the airways becoming narrowed, which inevitably leads to breathing difficulties. Casualties can get locked into a vicious circle of breathing problems followed by low oxygen levels in the blood. In the most serious of cases this will lead to complete circulatory collapse. In order to spot the signs the first responder needs to look for visible signs of distress, and blueness around the lips and extremities.
Aven Crotchett, of Cary, USA has grown up with the issue of anaphylactic shock. Initially she had a reaction that caused her face, eyes and lips to swell after touching a peanut flavoured snack in the school canteen. It was not until months later when she actually drunk a peanut flavoured milkshake that the condition of anaphylaxis was diagnosed. Luckily no real harm was done, but Aven does now need to carry a life-saving shot of adrenaline at all times. Other teens however aren't so lucky and the same reaction can prove fatal. Spotting these early signs and symptoms can nip the problem in the bud, and potentially go on to save a life.
So the role of the first responder, friend or family member is to be the detective. The next time your best pal's face starts swelling up don't just give him anti-histamine, but instead seek professional help. The same goes with breathing difficulties, blueness and even anxiety. Many lives are saved each year by those who can think quickly on their feet and are not afraid of getting something wrong.
Leading mountain rescue volunteer Geoff Goond believes "life is for learning", and has an infectious passion for first aid. Could you spot the signs of Anaphylactic Shock? If not then visit the first aid at work training blog @ http://www.train-aid.co.uk for video tutorials.