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First aid for a
severe allergic reaction

Watch the video, in which Sarah gets help when she has a severe allergic reaction.

Use the information below to remind yourself how to help someone who is having a severe allergic reaction.


The person may develop a rash, itchiness or swelling on their hands, feet or face. Their breathing may slow down.

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Vomiting and diarrhoea can also occur. Common causes of allergic reactions are pollen, stings, latex and some food items - such as nuts or dairy products.


Call 999 when you observe these symptoms.

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An allergic reaction can affect someone very quickly, and is potentially very serious.  If someone has a known allergy and has an auto-injector, you can help them to use it, or do it yourself following the guidance on the product.


Give constant reassurance until help arrives.

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Send us your stories

We love to hear from people who have stepped forward to help in a first aid emergency. If you have a first aid story that you'd be happy to share, please email including your name, telephone number and some brief details about what happened. The British Red Cross will only use your information to contact you about your first aid story.

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