Woman injecting emergency medicine into her leg

Soy, sesame seeds and shellfish. What do these three items have in common you ask? Nothing right? WRONG! These three items are some of the most common causes of anaphylaxis reaction or better known as severe allergic reaction.

Eggs, milk, mustard, peanuts, sulphites, tree nut and wheat are some of the others are known as allergens and they make a list of frightening potential causes for a severe reaction. People who have severe allergies to these products can and do die from various amounts of exposure or ingestion.

When the body is exposed to one of these allergens it becomes defensive and within seconds or minutes over reacts to the allergen causing a life threatening emergency.

Some of the signs and symptoms are:

  • Swelling of the face, eye lids, lips tongue or throat
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Paleness
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness

It is reported that one in five people, that’s over 6 million people have severe allergic reactions to a substance or trigger. When exposed to their trigger these people are going into shock: anaphylaxis shock.

The first aid treatment is the use of an auto injector and call 911. These auto injectors are a onetime use and a single dose of epinephrine which is man-made adrenaline. Many of these people, anywhere from 20 – 40 % will require a second dose of epinephrine within five minutes. The reason for this is, epinephrine auto injectors are no the cure for the severe allergic reaction. The auto injector only buys the ill person some time for emergency medical services to arrive.

When an injection is required the person or their caregiver will forcefully push the injector against the middle of the person’s outer thigh and hold there for ten seconds. This action will allow the medication to be completely delivered.

In Canada there is only one company still manufacturing these injectors, EpiPens®. These injectors come in two different sizes one that is for people under 30kgs and one for people above 30kgs. Currently the other company that produces auto injectors is Allerject. At the time of this article Allerject is still on a voluntary recall due to improper device delivery. The last update from the company didn’t state any time frame for the resolution of this recall.

Although fellow workers need not tell their employer if they have any medical illness it never hurts to ask a fellow co – worker if they have a life threatening illness. If they are willing to share this information ask what signs and symptoms you should expect and what is needed or done to help them manage this threat.

I pray that you will never need this information, but if you ever do need it you will be glad you asked.


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