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Discharge Instructions for Anaphylactic Shock

You have been diagnosed with a serious kind of allergic reaction known as anaphylactic shock. This occurs within minutes of exposure to an allergy-causing substance, such as penicillin, nuts, intravenous contrast given during a CT scan, or a bee sting. Contact with these substances, either through the skin or by eating, causes your blood pressure to drop suddenly. Less oxygen reaches your brain and other organs, and your body goes into shock. You may also have skin swelling, an itchy red rash called hives, and breathing difficulty. If not treated quickly, anaphylactic shock can be fatal.

Home Care

  • Ask your doctor about carrying an EpiPen. This is a single-dose injection kit of epinephrine (adrenaline). With the kit you can give yourself a shot of medication that will counteract the allergic reaction until medical help arrives. Learn how to give yourself a shot so that you are prepared.

  • Check the expiration date of your EpiPen regularly.

  • Keep more than one EpiPen on hand. Carry one kit with you and keep others where they are easy to find, such as in your work desk.

  • Avoid the things that cause your allergic reaction whenever possible.

  • Always ask about ingredients when eating food prepared by others. At a restaurant, tell the wait staff about your food allergies so that they know to take special care when preparing your meal.

  • Wear a medical identification bracelet. This warns others about your allergy and tells them what to do in an emergency. Ask your healthcare provider how to get one.

  • Tell your family, friends, and co-workers what they should do if you have a severe allergic reaction.

    • Show them how to use the EpiPen.

    • Tell them to call 911 if you are having a reaction and to give you a shot if you are unable to.

    • Ask them to start CPR if you stop breathing.

    • Tell them to make sure you are lying down with your legs raised during the reaction.

  • Tell your doctor, dentist, and pharmacist about any allergies you have to medications. Keep a list of alternative medications handy.

  • Ask your doctor whether immunotherapy (allergy shots) will help you.


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.

Call 911 Right Away if You Have:

  • Fainting or loss of consciousness

  • Racing pulse

  • Trouble breathing or wheezing

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Swelling of your lips, tongue, or throat

  • Itchy, blotchy skin or hives

  • Pale, cool, damp skin

  • Drowsiness

  • Confusion


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