A recent study that looked at children seen in emergency departments or urgent care centers for anaphylaxis has shown that half of the children who needed epinephrine did not get it before arriving at the emergency department.
When someone – child or adult – is having a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, epinephrine should be given immediately. Epinephrine is a life-saving medication administered through an auto injector.
In the study, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, researchers found that even children who were prescribed an epinephrine auto injector by their physician did not always receive this treatment before being seen in an emergency department or urgent care center. The study further highlighted that kids who had an allergic reaction at home were less likely to be given epinephrine than those who had a reaction at school. Another finding indicated that only 2/3 of the kids who had been prescribed epinephrine actually had it available at the time of their allergic reaction.
Epinephrine should always be the first line of defense when treating anaphylaxis, and the auto injector should always be with any patient who has any kind of severe allergy. Anaphylaxis symptoms often occur suddenly, progress rapidly, and can be deadly. It is recommended that a 2nd dose also be kept with the child, and if in doubt, administer that as well.
Anyone seen for anaphylaxis in an Emergency Department or Urgent Care Center should be referred to an allergist for a follow up visit. Allergists have the most specialized training to provide the most comprehensive follow-up care and guidance for severe allergic reactions.