There are two main types of medication that can be used to relieve the symptoms of an allergic reaction to foods:
Antihistamines, can be used to treat mild to moderate allergic reactions
Adrenaline, can be used to treat severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis)
Antihistamines work by blocking the effects of histamine, a protein responsible for most of the symptoms of an allergic reaction.
Many antihistamines are available from your pharmacist without prescription so it may be a good idea to stock up in case of an emergency.
Certain antihistamines, such as alimemazine and promethazine, aren’t suitable for children under two years old. It is important therefore that you seek medical advice from your GP if you have a younger child with a food allergy about what types of antihistamines may be suitable.
Adrenaline works by narrowing the blood vessels that counteract the effects of low blood pressure, and by opening up the airways to help ease breathing difficulties.
If your child’s, or your own allergies, are thought to have a potential risk of a previous episode of anaphylaxis, you will be given an auto-injector of adrenaline to use in case of emergencies.
It’s important that you read the manufacturer’s instructions that come with the auto-injector. When your child is old enough, train them how to use it.
Using an auto injector
If you suspect that somebody is experiencing the symptoms of anaphylaxis, then immediately call 999 for an ambulance and tell the operator that you suspect the person has anaphylaxis.
Older children and adults are likely to have been trained to inject themselves. You may need to inject younger children or older children and adults who are unable to inject themselves.