Allergies and Anaphylaxis

Allergies and Anaphylaxis

Allergies and Anaphylaxis are a concern for most parents, either experiencing it personally themselves or hearing stories throughout the parenting journey. One of the most common fears expressed by a new parent is the concern to introduce new foods to their child and the worry that a reaction might occur. In this safety series we will be addressing the difference between an allergy and anaphylaxis, food intolerance vs food allergy, signs and symptoms and what to do if your child is experiencing an allergic reaction.

It is important that if you do feel that your child is at risk that you seek further support and information from your local GP and we also recommend that all community members should understand what to do in case of an emergency.

Allergies vs Anaphylaxis

In understanding Anaphylaxis, we need to understand what is an allergy and what is the difference between the two. When thinking about allergies we are referring to something that our body reacts to that would normally be harmless. An allergy is usually represented by a superficial reaction of the skin whereas anaphylaxis displays common skin rashes but also involves respiratory and/or cardiovascular and/or persistent severe gastrointestinal symptoms.

An allergen can be anything that is found in the environment that will trigger an unexpected response – an inflammatory reaction. Some of the most common triggers for Anaphylaxis include food, insects and medications w

ith some uncommon triggers including latex, exercise, cold temperatures, immunisations (rare) and unidentified (idiopathic).

Food Intolerance Vs Food Allergy

There is a difference between your child having a food intolerance and food allergy. Food intolerance does not cause Anaphylaxis and the exact mechanism is sometimes not clear. It is very important that your child is diagnosed with an allergy to food and possible anaphylaxis.


Food allergy is the most common in children, effecting 10% of infants under one year, and 4-8% of children under 5 years with the 90% of allergies caused by the food below. Although be mindful that any food can cause a reaction.


*Image Reference:Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy

A reaction to food is most likely to occur after ingestion and generally does not occur on first exposure and if there is going to be a reaction it is usually 1-2 hours after exposure. It is also noted that maternal diet during pregnancy or breastfeeding is not considered to play a significant role.


Signs and symptoms of an Allergic Reaction

Mild or moderate allergic reaction

  • Swelling
  • Hives/ Welts
  • Tingling mouth
  • Eczema or rashes
  • Abdominal pain (these are signs of a mild to moderate allergic reaction to most allergens, however, in insect allergy these are signs of anaphylaxis).

Mild or moderate signs might not proceed with Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction)

In addition to the mild and moderate allergic reaction

  • Difficult/Noisy breathing
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Swelling and tightness of the throat
  • Difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice
  • Wheeze or persistence cough
  • Dizziness or collapse
  • Pale and Floppy (in young children)


*Image Reference:Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy

What do I do if my child has what seems to be an allergic reaction?

 Mild or Moderate Allergic Reaction


  • For insect allergy, flick out the sting if it can be seen (but do not remove ticks)
  • Stay with person and call for help
  • Give medications if prescribed
  • Locate adrenaline auto-injector if available
  • Contact parent/guardian or other emergency contact.

Anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction)


  • Lay person flat – if breathing is difficult, allow to sit – do not allow them to stand or walk
  • Give the adrenaline autoinjector if available and follow instructions
  • Call 000
  • Contact parent/guardian or other emergency contact
  • Further adrenaline dose may be given (if available) and there is no response after 5 minutes.

Commence CPR at any time if person is unresponsive and not breathing normally.

If uncertain whether it is asthma or anaphylaxis, give adrenaline autoinjector FIRST, then asthma reliever.

Adrenaline is live saving and must be used promptly without delay. It is important that all parents and carers in the community understand the use of an epi-pen, even if your child is not at risk. It is not uncommon that you will be around a child that has Anaphylaxis and you should know how to help.


*Image Reference:Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy


WATCH this fantastic video on how to administer an lifesaving epi-pen!




READ this article in your local MAMA MAG and information from the resources below.

Mama Mag


Australian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy



This Safety Series has proudly been bought to you by Little Rockers Radio and WONDERWOMAN Children. Thank you to MAMA MAG for your support in bringing this message to the community.


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