Often when talking to people, they share their confusion about how to know if someone is having an allergic reaction. In order to be able to help someone, you kind of need to be able to recognise the situation.

So I thought it was about time to lay out the possible signs and symptoms. No medical speak, just what to look for if you think someone might be having an allergic reaction. Also, it is important to know that kids often don’t describe how they feel in a way that an adult would.

So let’s cover both.


Firstly, here are the signs and symptoms of a possible allergic reaction.

  • Swollen lips/ tongue
  • Trouble breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Faint/collapse
  • Itching of the mouth
  • Itching of the skin
  • Reddening of the skin
  • Rash
  • Nausea and vomiting

A person doesn’t have to have all of these; in fact sometimes only one or two are present. If in doubt, seek medical attention immediately.


So… how might a child describe their allergic reaction? They might use one or more of the following phrases.

  • “my tummy hurts”,
  • “my throat hurts”,
  • “there is something stuck in my throat”
  • “my mouth is itchy”
  • “my body is itchy”,
  • “I want to be sick”,
  • “I feel like lying down”,
  • “my lips are burning”,
  • “the world is spinning”,
  • “I can’t breathe”,
  • “I feel very hot”
  • “my body is scratchy”


All of these phrases are ways to describe the uncomfortable feelings they are having in their body. It is important to listen, and read between the lines to understand what they are trying to tell us.


If you think someone is having an allergic reaction, there are some quick steps you can take in order to get him or her the help they need.

Step 1

Sit or lie the person down. This will help to ensure they do not collapse and hurt themselves.

Step 2

Understand how they are feeling and ask if they have any emergency medications such as an EpiPen.

Step 3

Give their EpiPen if available. There is simple instructions on the pen itself, and on allergy action plans.

Step 4

Call 000 and send for help.

Step 5

Stay with the person and reassure them that help is on the way. Do not allow them to stand or walk.


Knowing that an allergy emergency is happening, and what to do if it is, is vitally important, and could potentially save a persons life.  For more information, and regular first aid workshops, head to our website.


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