Germ Illustration

Anaphylactic Reactions

Anaphylactic reactions are the most severe allergic reaction and require immediate medical attention. They are:

  • sudden
  • severe
  • potentially life threatening
  • unpredictable

These reactions can cause multiple body organs to shut down. This can result in death.

Anaphylactic reactions require epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) injection(s). This hormone can help slow the allergic reaction.

In Canada, epinephrine is delivered by a disposable drug delivery system which gives a measured dose of adrenaline. The concealed needle is spring activated. It is injected into muscle through an EpiPen® or Twinject® device. If a child has severe allergy staff should always carry this device and know how to use it properly. The child may also wear MedicAlert®.


  • tightens up blood vessels
  • increases heart rate
  • widens air passages in the lungs
  • gives a feeling of alertness, shakiness
  • works against the effects of anaphylaxis


Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan Form with EpiPen Instructions (PDF). Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2015.

Anaphylaxis in Schools & Other Settings, 3rd Edition (PDF). Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2015. (See Appendix B: Action Steps for Anaphylaxis Management, page 30).

Last modified: February 19, 2020