Asthma and Anaphylaxis

What Is Anaphylaxis?

  • Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction.
  • Different parts of the body can be affected all at once.
  • The signs of anaphylaxis may not always be the same.
  • Anaphylaxis is most often caused by foods, medicines or insect stings. It can be caused by other things, such as latex or exercise.
  • Reactions are unpredictable, but usually occur within a few minutes after contact.
  • Anaphylaxis almost always occurs within an hour after contact, but can happen up to 2 hours later.
  • Antihistamine medicines will not prevent or stop anaphylaxis.
  • Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. Death can occur.

Asthma And Anaphylaxis

  • Anaphylactic reactions can be worse if you also have asthma, especially if asthma is not well controlled.
  • Trouble breathing can occur with both asthma and anaphylaxis. Asthma symptoms usually get worse over days. Breathing problems due to anaphylaxis will come on quickly, within minutes.
  • Asthma inhalers will not work for anaphylaxis.
  • Adrenalin (epinephrine) is needed to treat anaphylaxis.

Signs of Anaphylaxis

  • Sudden swelling of the lips, tongue, throat or face
  • Severe drooling or trouble swallowing
  • Sudden breathing problems such as cough, wheeze or feeling short of breath
  • Severe hives or itching that happen over minutes and affect most of the body
  • Severe repeated vomiting
  • Dizziness or fainting

Managing Anaphylaxis

  • Keep asthma under good control.
  • See an allergy doctor to confirm allergies.
  • Avoid the things to which you are allergic. Always read labels of the food you buy and eat.
  • Always carry your epinephrine auto-injector EpiPen® or AllerjectTM – It can save your life.
  • Use your auto-injector at the earliest sign of anaphylaxis. Most deaths occur because of a delay in using the auto-injector.
  • If in doubt, use the auto-injector (EpiPen® or Allerject™).
  • As soon as it is used, call 911 or have someone take you to the nearest Emergency Department.
  • Check your auto-injector’s expiry date. Replace it when it is expired. Review when and how to use it every month.
  • Avoid exposing your auto-injector to extreme heat or cold.
  • Make sure that family, friends and other caregivers know about your allergy and anaphylaxis plan and know how to use the auto-injector.
  • School age children, teens and adults who are at risk for anaphylaxis should wear a MedicAlert® bracelet.

Click the following links for more information on how to use the auto-injectors:

EpiPen®  information

AllerjectTM information

Helpful links for food allergy information:
Allergic Living Magazine
Food Allergy Canada
Allergy Support Centre
Information for Kids/Anaphylaxis Canada
Canadian Food Inspection Agency
FAAN Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

Resources for Teens with Food Allergies – Click here!