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Sea Sick: Allergic reactions call for quick response; Do you know what to do?

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Sea Sick: by Keith Murray

Previously, I have written about anaphylaxis and using epinephrine auto-injectors, commonly known by the brand name EpiPen. Today, I would like you to take a quiz and see how prepared you are to treat this life-threatening emergency. Then, hand the quiz to other crew members and see how they do.  

Anaphylaxis (pronounced “ana-fi-LAX-is”) is a potentially severe or life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur very quickly – as fast as within a couple of minutes of exposure to an allergen. Common triggers are food, bites, insect stings, medications and latex. Exercise-induced anaphylaxis is also possible, and sometimes there is no known cause of anaphylaxis.

Some of the more common allergens are peanuts, shellfish, eggs, ant bites, bee stings, penicillin, latex (the type of rubber many balloons and exam gloves are made from), but there are a variety of other allergic triggers as well.

EpiPen

EpiPens and similar auto-injectors contain epinephrine, a chemical that narrows blood vessels and opens airways in the lungs. These effects can reverse severe low blood pressure, wheezing, severe skin itching, hives and other symptoms of an allergic reaction.

TAKE THE ANAPHYLAXIS AND EPINEPHRINE QUIZ
(scroll down for answers)

1. Epinephrine injectors are very dangerous and should only be used by trained medical professionals such as doctors, nurses and paramedics.

True or false?

2. Epinephrine injections should be given at the first sign of an allergic reaction.

True or false?

3. Trouble breathing is most likely a sign of asthma and not an allergic reaction.

True or false?

4. Epinephrine injections should be given even for mild allergic reactions.

True or false?

5. Amy has a potentially life-threatening allergy to milk, soy and peanuts. She tells you her stomach is upset, she feels dizzy, her tongue feels funny and her throat feels tight. She doesn’t have any hives or rash that you can see. You ask her what she ate for lunch an hour earlier, and she replies a turkey sandwich and a juice smoothie. You notice she is having trouble breathing. She thinks she might have the flu, but you wonder if she could be having an anaphylactic reaction. Which is the best answer?

a) Have her drink plenty of fluids and take Tylenol.

b) Pepto Bismol would be the best option.

c) Give her a dose of epinephrine using her auto-injector as per the instructions in her Food Allergy / Emergency Action Plan while another staff member contacts Emergency Medical Services.

6. Peanuts and tree nuts are the most common triggers in cases of fatal, food-induced anaphylaxis.

True or false?

7. Anaphylaxis is always a medical emergency.

True or false?

8. What often triggers anaphylaxis?

a) Food (peanuts, shrimp, eggs)

b) Insect stings

c) Latex

d) All of the above

9. Kids should never give themselves an epinephrine injection.

True or false?

10. If a child in your care shows symptoms of anaphylaxis, you should:

a) Use epinephrine immediately.

b) Wait five minutes to see if the symptoms improve.

11. Epinephrine injections work best when injected into the left arm.

True or false?

12. You don’t need to contact emergency medical services if symptoms get better right away with epinephrine.

True or false?

13. What are the main types of food allergies?

a) Gluten

b) Dairy

c) Shellfish, fish, peanuts and tree nuts

d) Skittles

14. What does FAST stand for in allergic reactions?

a) Face, arms, speech and time

b) Face, airway, stomach and total body

c) Fish, apples, strawberries and tomatoes

15. The ‘Big Eight’ foods that account for 90 percent of food allergy reactions include all but the following. (Which one is false?)

a) Fish

b) Soy

c) Eggs

d) Bananas

16. Epinephrine injectors work through clothing.

True or false?

17. Stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea are signs of a possible allergic reaction.

True or false?

18. Hives, Itching, redness, and swelling of the face, lips or tongue is a sign of a possible allergic reaction.

True or false?

EMT Keith Murray provides onboard CPR, AED and first-aid training as well as AED sales and service through TheCPRSchool.com. Comments are welcome below.

Answers:  

  1. false
  2. true
  3. false
  4. true
  5. c) Give her a dose of epinephrine using her auto-injector as per the instructions in her Food Allergy/Emergency Action Plan while another staff member contacts Emergency Medical Services.
  6. true
  7. true
  8. d) all of the above
  9. false
  10. a) Use epinephrine immediately
  11. false
  12. false
  13. c) Shellfish, fish, peanuts and tree nuts
  14. b) Face, airway, stomach and total body
  15. d) bananas
  16. true
  17. true
  18. true

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