INITIATE TREATMENT FOR ANAPHYLACTIC SHOCK
Anaphylaxis is an unusual or exaggerated allergic reaction, usually to drugs or to
insect bites or stings. The patient with an anaphylactic reaction may quickly develop
symptoms of shock. In this discussion, "anaphylaxis" and "anaphylactic shock" are
used interchangeably. The most common drug that brings on anaphylactic shock is
penicillin, although any drug is a potential source of anaphylactic shock. "Anaphylaxis"
is derived from "ana," meaning without, and "phylaxis," meaning protection. Hence, the
casualty is without protection from the poison or drug. In anaphylaxis, the release of
histamine is profound, causing the bronchial tree to constrict and go into spasm.
CAUSES OF ANAPHYLACTIC SHOCK
Anaphylactic shock may be caused by one or more of the following:
a. Injections. The injection of drugs to which one is sensitive, especially
antibiotics and vaccines.
b. Ingestion. Eating foods to which one is sensitive, such as shellfish or
c. Insect Stings. Stings of insects to which one is especially sensitive, such as
the bee, wasp, yellow jacket, or hornet.
d. Inhalation. Breathing chemicals, dusts, or pollens or other materials to which
one is sensitive.
TREATMENT PROCEDURES TO FOLLOW FOR ANAPHYLACTIC SHOCK
a. Introduction. Anaphylaxis may occur immediately or up to 30 minutes or
more after the patient is exposed to the foreign substance. In general, the sooner this
reaction occurs following exposure, the more severe the signs and symptoms of the
reaction. All patients receiving medication should be observed for at least 15 minutes
following administration to identify developing reactions. The steps below should be
followed if your patient develops an anaphylactic reaction.
b. Survey the Casualty. Before you can do anything for the patient, you must
determine what type of reaction he is having. Follow the basic procedures for surveying
the casualty. Check the airway and pulse first.