Discharge Instructions for Anaphylactic Shock

You have been diagnosed with a serious allergic reaction known as anaphylactic shock or anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis happens within minutes of exposure to an allergen. Common causes are penicillin, nuts, IV (intravenous) contrast dyes used for some X-rays and scans, a bee sting, or latex products. In anaphylaxis:  

  • Blood pressure drops suddenly

  • Less oxygen reaches your brain and other organs, and your body goes into shock

  • An itchy red rash called hives may appear

If not treated quickly, anaphylactic shock can cause death.

Home care

Tips for home care include:

  • Ask your healthcare provider about carrying an epinephrine autoinjector. This is a single-dose injection of epinephrine (adrenaline). With the kit you can give yourself a shot of medicine that will help to stop the allergic reaction until you can get medical help.

  • Learn how to give yourself an epinephrine shot so that you are prepared. Epinephrine autoinjectors come with instructions, but you can also ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

  • Make sure you always have more than one epinephrine autoinjector. Carry one kit with you. Keep others where they are easy to find. This might be at your work desk, or in a gym or tote bag.

  • Check the expiration date of your epinephrine autoinjectors regularly.

  • Stay away from the things that cause your allergic reaction whenever possible.

  • If you have a food allergy, always ask about ingredients when eating food made by others. At a restaurant, tell your waiter about your food allergies.

  • Wear a medical identification bracelet with the information about your allergy. Ask your healthcare provider how to get one.

  • Tell your family, friends, and co-workers what they should do if you have a severe allergic reaction. Include:

    • How to use the epinephrine autoinjector. Tell them to give you the shot if you can't.

    • How to position you during a reaction. You should be lying down with your legs raised.

    • When to call 911. They should call right away.

    • When to start CPR. They should start CPR if you stop breathing.

  • Tell all of your healthcare providers about your allergies.

  • Ask your healthcare provider about allergy shots (immunotherapy).

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment with your healthcare provider.

Call 911

Call 911 right away if you have:

  • Fainting or loss of consciousness

  • Fast pulse

  • Trouble breathing or wheezing

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Swelling of your lips, tongue, or throat

  • Itchy, blotchy skin or hives

  • Pale, cool, damp skin

  • Drowsiness

  • Confusion