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First Aid for Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a potentially life threatening, severe allergic reaction and should always be treated as a medical emergency.   Mild to moderate allergic reactions (such as hives or swelling) may not always occur before severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) - you can go from no reaction from a beesting to a life threatening reaction with no warning.

Adrenaline injection is the first line treatment for anaphylaxis. ALL beekeepers should have at least one adrenaline injector available at all times, if not for your own safety then for the safety of family and friends.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis are potentially life threatening and may include any one of the following:

  • Difficult or noisy breathing
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Swelling or tightness in throat
  • Difficulty talking or hoarse voice
  • Wheeze or persistent cough
  • Persistent dizziness or collapse
  • Pale and floppy (in young children)

In some cases, signs and symptoms of mild to moderate allergic reactions occur before anaphylaxis may include:

  • Swelling/flushing of face, lips and/or eyes
  • Hives or welts
  • Abdominal pain and vomiting - these are signs of anaphylaxis for insect allergy and are very common in beesting allergy
First Aid Plan
  1. LAY PERSON FLAT - do NOT allow them to stand or walk, even if they think they are well enough to do so

    If unconscious or pregnant, place in recovery position - on left side if pregnant
    If breathing is difficult allow them to sit with legs outstretched
    Hold young children flat, not upright. If unconscious, place in recovery position


    Take note of the time you gave the injection

  3. Phone ambulance - 000

    Keep your patient comfortable - they may vomit or ask to go to the toilet - ensure they stay lying or sitting if this makes it easier for them to breathe
    When the ambulance arrives you will be asked about symptoms, the time of adrenaline administration and will be asked to hand over the used injector

  4. Further adrenaline may be given if no response after 5 minutes - IF IN DOUBT GIVE ADRENALINE INJECTOR

    Commence CPR at any time if person is unconscious, unresponsive and not breathing normally
Where can I buy an adrenaline injector?

There are two adrenaline injector brands sold in pharmacies in Western Australia, known as Anapen and Epipen. Both products can be bought over-the-counter at pharmacies for +/- $100. The price may vary between pharmacies and between the brands.

When planning to buy an adrenaline injector, talk to your pharmacist about the best product for you and how to use the pen.

It is recommended you have an adrenaline injector, know how to store and use the medication, and have a first aid plan.

Useful resources and videos

There useful resources and videos on-line on how to give first aid for anaphylaxis and demonstrating how to use an adrenaline injector.


Have any questions? Need more information? Have something to send us? Please visit our Contacts page. We are volunteer organisation so it is best to contact us by email. We will reply as soon as we can.

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