Allergic Reactions

An allergic reaction can cause breathing problems.

Allergic reactions can be caused by:

Insect bites and stings, including ant bites and bee stings.
Foods and spices
Inhaled substances, including dust and pollen
Chemicals, inhaled or when in contact with the skin
Medications, injected or taken by mouth.

Allergic reactions can be mild or severe. A person with a mild reaction may develop a burning or itching of the skin. More severe reactions will involve the airway. This severe reaction involving the airway is called ANAPHYLACTIC SHOCK and is a true emergency.

Signs of Anaphylactic shock

Victim has burning, itching and red splotchy skin
Victim feels like the tongue and lips are swollen
Victims’ breathing has whistling or wheezing noise
Victims breath is fast or shallow
Victim may be restless followed by fainting or unconsciousness.

The signs of an allergic reaction will occur very quickly. Once exposed to the irritant, the reaction will not be delayed but will happen within minutes of the exposure.

Reactions that develop into anaphylactic shock need medication as soon as possible. People who know they have such reactions to certain things may carry medication to reverse the reaction. The patient may administer these medications, usually epinephrine and/or antihistamines. You may help the patient take their medicine.


Have the victim lie down or stay calm
Keep the victim’s airway open and prevent them from tilting their head forward
Do not give the victim anything by mouth
Be prepared for changes and watch the victims breathing
Call 911

More information on Anaphylaxis