Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that occurs after exposure to an allergen. It should be treated as a medical emergency as it can be potentially life threatening.
The onset of symptoms can occur rapidly and include:
- Swelling or tightness of the throat
- Difficulty breathing or wheezing
- Swelling of the tongue, face, or lips
- Dizziness or unconsciousness
- Young children may become pale or floppy
- Hives or reddening of the skin
- Abdominal pain or vomiting
The most common triggers for anaphylactic shock include food, insect venom and medicines with the severity of reactions varying between individuals.
Respiratory or cardiac arrest can occur in as little as four minutes for venom triggered allergic reactions or six minutes for food triggered reactions. It is therefore critical that treatment is administered as early as possible.
Adrenaline is the first line of treatment, rapidly reversing the effects of anaphylaxis.
The current standard is to administer the adrenaline via intramuscular injection as soon as possible. In a community setting this can be injected via an auto-injector, which is administered by the patient themselves or a bystander.
The auto-injector is far from perfect with the following barriers to survival:
- The majority of consumers do not carry their auto-injectors regularly due to their size and storage requirements
- Parents/Caregivers and patients are hesitant to use their auto-injectors because of a fear of needles
- When auto-injectors are used, they are commonly misused leading to injury and poor treatment outcomes
- Time to peak efficacy is slow, on average absorption takes eight minutes.