Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Incidence Symptoms Evaluation Treatment antihistamines corticosteroids epinephrine specialist Home Care warning signs Prevention Outlook Complications Underlying Cause

Anaphylaxis Treatment

Treatment for anaphylaxis requires immediate care in the emergency room. Treatment for anaphylaxis includes epinephrine injections, antihistamines, and corticosteroid medications, given through an intravenous (IV) line. If treatment is rendered soon after the symptoms of anaphylaxis begin, the condition usually improves rapidly. Those who have experienced anaphylaxis should carry a self-injectable syringe that contains epinephrine. Self-treatment can be life saving if symptoms worsen rapidly.

A person with allergies must learn how to avoid substances that trigger the illness. Immunotherapy or allergy shots, train the body to tolerate the substance that triggers anaphylaxis. This may help reduce the severity of the symptoms when a person is exposed to the trigger.

Treatment for anaphylaxis may include:

Anaphylaxis Antihistamines

Antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and cimetidine help block the actions of histamine, which causes symptoms of anaphylaxis.

Diphenhydramine Dosing Chart

AgeDoseIntervalMax Daily Dose
2-5 years6.25 mg4-6 hours37.5 mg/day
6-11 years12.5-25 mg4-6 hours150 mg/day
12 and older25-50 mg4-6 hours300 mg/day

Anaphylaxis Corticosteroids

Corticosteroids block the immune system response to the allergen. Corticosteroids are given through an intravenous line, in combination with antihistamines and epinephrine. After initial treatment, anaphylaxis requires additional treatment with oral corticosteroid, for 1-2 weeks.

Examples include:

Anaphylaxis Epinephrine

Epinephrine is a lifesaving drug for the treatment of anaphylaxis: it reverses the effects of anaphylaxis on the heart, lungs, blood vessels, airway and gastrointestinal tract. It can be injected under the skin or through an intravenous line. People with severe anaphylaxis usually require intravenous epinephrine.

This drug is also available for home use as Epi-Pen or Auto-Inject. It is given as a single muscular injection, usually into the outer thigh. Those who have had severe allergic reactions in the past should carry an epinephrine injection device with them at all times. They must use the device at the first sign of anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis Specialist

Physicians from the following specialties evaluate and treat anaphylaxis:

Continue to Anaphylaxis Home Care

Last Updated: Jun 3, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Anaphylaxis References
  1. Atkinson TP, Kaliner MA: Anaphylaxis. Med Clin North Am 1992 Jul; 76(4): 841-55. [1614236]
  2. Busse WW: Mechanisms and advances in allergic diseases. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2000 Jun; 105(6 Pt 2): S593-8. [10856163]
  3. Nimmagadda SR, Evans R 3rd: Allergy: etiology and epidemiology. Pediatr Rev 1999 Apr; 20(4): 111-5. [10208083]
  4. Reisman RE: Insect stings. N Engl J Med 1994 Aug 25; 331(8): 523-7. [8041420]
  5. Sheikh A, Walker S. Anaphylaxis. BMJ. 2005 Aug 6;331(7512):330. [16081446]
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