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Anaphylactic Reaction in Children: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

A bad allergic reaction affects your child's whole body. Doctors call this an anaphylactic reaction. Your child's immune system may have reacted to food or medicine. Or maybe your child had an insect bite or sting. This kind of reaction can take place the first time your child comes into contact with a substance. Or it may take many times before a substance causes a problem.

You need to get help for your child right away if there is a reaction like this again.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • If your doctor has prescribed medicine, such as an antihistamine, give it to your child exactly as directed. Call your doctor or nurse advice line if you think your child is having a problem with any medicines.
  • Learn all you can about your child's allergies. Your child may be able to avoid a bad response when you do or don't do certain things. For instance, you can check food or drug labels for contents that might cause problems.
  • Your doctor may prescribe a shot of epinephrine for you and your child to carry in case your child has a severe reaction. Learn how to give your child the shot. Keep it with you at all times. Make sure it has not expired. If your child is old enough, teach your child how to give the shot.
  • Have your child wear medical alert jewellery that lists any allergies.
  • Teach people, such as teachers, babysitters, coaches, and other caregivers, about your child's allergies. Tell them what your child needs to avoid. Teach them what to do if your child has a reaction.
  • Before you give your child any medicine, tell your doctor if your child has had a bad response to any medicines in the past.

When should you call for help?

Give an epinephrine shot if:

  • You think your child is having a severe allergic reaction.
  • Your child has symptoms in more than one body area, such as mild nausea and an itchy mouth.

After giving an epinephrine shot, call 911 even if your child feels better.

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has symptoms of a severe allergic reaction. These may include:
    • Sudden raised, red areas (hives) all over your child's body.
    • Swelling of the throat, mouth, lips, or tongue.
    • Trouble breathing.
    • Passing out (losing consciousness). Or your child may feel very light-headed or suddenly feel weak, confused, or restless.
    • Severe belly pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. (A baby with pain or nausea may be really fussy and not stop crying.)
  • Your child has been given an epinephrine shot, even if your child feels better.

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as:
    • A rash or hives (raised, red areas on the skin).
    • Itching.
    • Swelling.
    • Mild belly pain or nausea.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.