Hesperian Health Guides
Allergy: Mild or Severe (Anaphylaxis)
Mild allergies are caused by dust, pollen, insect bites, or certain foods, chemicals or medicines. These are usually treatable with antihistamines.
Signs of a mild allergy
Rash or redness
If there is an insect
bite, it may swell
A severe allergic reaction is much more dangerous and can quickly stop someone’s breathing.
Signs of a severe allergy (anaphylaxis)
- Flushing, itching, or rash
- Swollen lips, mouth, or throat, difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
- Swollen hands or feet
- Nausea or stomachache
The most common signs are rash and breathing problems.
If the person cannot swallow, or is having trouble breathing, give epinephrine right away. You can give another dose in 5 to 15 minutes if necessary.
Epinephrine comes in different strengths and different amounts may be needed to give the same dose. Figure out the correct amount and have it ready in a medicine kit before emergencies happen. Or stock a pre‑loaded injection, called an EpiPen or known by other brand names.
Inject epinephrine in the thigh muscle, here:
In most cases, if you ever have an allergic reaction to a medicine, food, bee sting, or something else, you should avoid it forever after. The second time you are exposed you can expect an even worse reaction.