Surviving Anaphylaxis

  1. GPS1504
    It seems like just yesterday I had to rescue my dog from trying to eat a bee...maybe because it was just yesterday. Now that warm weather is starting to visit, so are bees. With bees come bee stings and sometimes anaphylaxis. If you have an allergy to bee stings or anything else that causes anaphylaxis, there is no time like the present to prepare for such reactions to occur. Knowing what causes anaphylaxis and how to treat it in both the case of yourself and someone else is key to coming out of an episode without any lasting damage.


    Anaphylaxis is a word that describes a severe allergic reaction that can be life threatening. It is caused by a vast array of triggers that range from insect bites and stings to certain types of food or medications. While anaphylaxis only affects those that react to specific allergens, those it does affect can succumb to a severe reaction quite quickly. Reactions can present in a variety of ways, sometimes showing no outward symptoms at all or sometimes having symptoms present in multiple forms. Reactions can appear almost instantaneously or may take as long as a couple of hours to appear. The most common types of reactions are:
    • Skin reactions: burning, itching, swelling, and redness of skin, including hives.
    • Respiratory reactions: wheezing, coughing, or shortness of breath.
    • Gastrointestinal reactions: cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
    • Cardiac reactions: lightheadedness, blood pressure changes, rapid or erratic heartbeat, and cardiac arrest.
    • Miscellaneous reactions: panic, confusion, headaches, and loss of bladder/bowel control.
    When making any sort of survival plan with people whose medical histories you do not know, it is beneficial to ask ahead of time. People who have been known to experience anaphylaxis in the past will likely have the same problem in the future. Because of this, having treatment options is invaluable, so the presence of an EpiPen should be mandatory. Once you are aware that people severely affected by allergens will be present, make an effort to avoid triggers, especially those in insect form such as bees and wasps as they are commonly linked to anaphylaxis. In the event of a food allergy that causes a reaction, avoiding the presence of such food items is the best way to prevent that sort of reaction from occurring.


    If, despite your best efforts, a reaction occurs, quick action is necessary especially after the SHTF or in remote locations where medical assistance is not available. Try to identify the source of the reaction and remove it, such as if a bee stinger is lodged in the affected party's arm. Administer a dose from an EpiPen if one is available or supplement with corticosteroids and antihistamines. Keep a close watch on breathing and openness of airways as well as circulation, trying to be reassuring and maintaining calmness for not only the sake of the affected party but also yourself. Keeping the person seated or laying down will help with lightheadedness and prevent a fall should consciousness be lost. Seek medical attention if/when possible as death can occur due to anaphylaxis and it may be necessary for supplemental oxygen and intravenous fluids to be administered.


    Anaphylaxis is something that will be difficult to cope with in the absence of civilization and routine medical care. If you or a family member is prone to allergic reactions, stock up on supplies ahead of time. It should be a normal part of your daily routine to be prepared, but in a survival situation it is all the more important to stack as many odds as possible in your favor.

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