There are different positions that help a patient to recover from an anaphylactic reaction, depending on their condition. When the patient is using their auto-injector they should either lie flat or be sat down. If the symptoms are affecting breathing, the patient may be more comfortable in either the semi-recumbent position, resting on someone else or on pillows. They will find it easier to breathe in this position.
If the patient is feeling cold, dizzy, weak or they are clammy or sweaty, they may have low blood pressure, so you should lay them down with their legs raised up on a chair or something similar, which allows blood to return to the head. It is important to not suddenly stand up after using the auto-injector as a sudden change in body position may lower the blood pressure drastically, which could make the condition much worse.
If you are caring for someone, when lying them down, it is a good idea to turn their head to one side to prevent them from breathing in vomit, should they suddenly be sick. If the patient looks like they may vomit, turn them on their side in preparation, and if anyone becomes unconscious, you should always place them in the recovery position. However, if they stop breathing, then you should begin CPR.
To put the patient into the recovery position, make sure they are on their back and take the hand nearest to you and place it at 90 degrees from the body with the elbow bent. Lean across them and pull their other hand across their body by the thumb and then interlock your fingers and hold their hand against their face on the side nearest to you. With your other hand grip their leg furthest away from you and lift it so that the foot is flat on the floor. Move your hand on the far side of the knee and pull them towards you using the leg as a lever and keeping their head supported with your other hand. Remove your hand from their hand and open their airway by tilting the head back. Their hand will remain by their face to support it. Then tidy up their leg so it is not reducing circulation, which will also support them better. Check they are breathing, that the airway is open, continuing to closely monitor their breathing and vital signs until the EMS arrives. If one is available you can cover them with a blanket to keep them warm. Remember in all cases of anaphylaxis you must call the EMS, even if the patient is feeling better.
For more information on Anaphylaxis, take our video online course at www.proanaphylaxis.co.uk
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