Protecting Children from Severe Allergic Reactions

Bee stings can send some kids into life-threatening anaphylaxis shock. Get the facts that could save a child's life.

Taking a group of kids on a picnic? Make sure you know if any of them has a known allergy and that you know what to do if a child (or an adult) develops a severe allergic reaction.

Allergic reactions are most often triggered by foods and food additives and can happen throughout the year, but spending time outdoors may mean exposure to bees, wasps, hornets and fire ants whose venom can trigger a severe allergic reaction – or anaphylaxis – in up to 4 percent of the U.S. population.

Anaphylaxis involves the entire body and can affect any of its systems. Symptoms vary widely – from vomiting to severe headache or swelling to itchy throat and eyes – so it’s important to learn to recognize them and respond quickly. Anaphylaxis can result in difficult breathing, loss of consciousness and even death if not immediately treated.

If you, your child or someone else in your party has a known allergy, be sure to carry a self-injectable epinephrine (adrenalin) shot, if prescribed, even on short expeditions.

If a member of your party begins experiencing severe allergy symptoms, call for medical help or go to an emergency room. The sooner the reaction is treated, the less severe it will be. Even if the patient has received immediate medical treatment on site, he or she should be transported to a hospital for further evaluation and treatment.

Check out the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network for more tips on protecting kids from severe allergic reactions.