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Understanding Anaphylactic Shock in the Workplace

Anaphylaxis is a very severe allergic reaction that can be potentially life-threatening if not treated in time. It affects many different systems and organs of the body. Anaphylactic reactions can range from mild to severe. The more severe reactions affect the heart or airways so they must be treated immediately or else they could result in shock or even death.

It is important to be aware of the possibility of anaphylactic shock in the workplace. Anyone who is in danger of Anaphylaxis should definitely let their employers be aware of the situation in case a situation should arise where they will need medical attention.


Symptoms of Anaphylaxis

It is important to understand the symptoms of Anaphylaxis in case you or one of your co-workers has a severe reaction. Below are some of the symptoms of Anaphylaxis:

  • Swelling around the eyes
  • Itchy watery eyes
  • Sense of “impending doom”
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea,
  • Hives, flushed or swollen skin
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Weakness, faintness
  • Difficulty breathing, wheezing or asthma symptoms
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Facial swelling
  • Lump in the back of the throat
  • Tongue or lips swelling
  • Difficulty swallowing


Causes of Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis can be caused by a wide variety of allergens. The most common are food allergies such as shellfish or peanuts, or from insect venom, bee or wasp stings. Someone may have an Anaphylactic reaction to certain medications, chemicals or even latex. Anaphylactic shock can also occur if you work out or exert yourself physically within a few hours of eating a food that you are allergic to such as a peanut allergy.

Most times, those who are in danger of Anaphylaxis are often aware of their allergies and carry an epipen with them at all times. However, they may not be aware that they have a specific allergy and may go into Anaphylactic shock. That is why it is important that everyone is aware of the symptoms.


Awareness in the Workplace

There are precautions one can take to make the workplace safer. Every worker should be informed about the potential hazards they may be exposed to in the workplace and properly trained in how to handle these situations. Those who are not trained to handle hazardous materials should not do so. Anyone who has a known allergy to a substance should never be forced to handle that substance.

Those with known allergies who carry an epipen should let their employers and coworkers know that they have an epipen in case of a reaction. Most places of employment offer first aid training and there should always be someone in the workplace who knows how to administer the epipen. Also, it is important to understand that the epipen is just the first line of defense. Once the medication has been injected, you must contact emergency services immediately, as the victim is still in danger and needs immediate medical assistance. Obviously, if the person does not have an epipen and is experiencing an anaphylactic reaction, you must contact emergency services immediately, as it could literally be a matter of life and death.


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