What is Anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. It can occur within a few seconds/minutes of exposure to the allergen. Allergens may be but are not limited to foods, insect bites or stings. Anaphylaxis causes one’s immune system to release a flood of chemicals that can cause the affected individual to have a severe allergic reaction or go into shock. A severe allergic reaction results in a sudden drop in blood pressure and the airways narrow which results in blocking breathing. Signs and symptoms may include a rapid, weak pulse; a skin rash; and nausea and vomiting. Common allergy triggers include certain foods, some medications, insect venom and latex. Anaphylaxis requires an immediate injection of epinephrine (Epi-pen/Epi-pen Jr.) and a follow-up trip to an emergency room. After the administration of epinephrine, do not wait to see if the symptoms resolve. You should still seek emergency medical help to ensure no recurrence (biphasic anaphylaxis).
Anaphylaxis symptoms usually occur within minutes of exposure to an allergen. Sometimes, however, it can occur a half-hour or longer after exposure. Signs and symptoms include:
Skin reactions, including hives and itching and flushed or pale skin
Low blood pressure (hypotension)
Constriction of your airways and a swollen tongue or throat, which can cause wheezing and trouble breathing
A weak and rapid pulse
Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
Dizziness or fainting
If an athlete has a severe allergies (anaphylaxis), he/she must have his/her prescribed epi-pen (current/non-expired) with them at all practices and competitions. Failure to have the epi-pen will result in disqualification from participation. The epi-pen must be present despite the allergen.
If an athlete must use his/her Epi-Pen, emergency medical help must be sought, and the athlete must receive clearance from a physician to resume participation.