Allergy/Asthma Information Association

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What is anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a severe potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention.

Anaphylaxis is the most severe kind of allergic reaction. It can cause death, although the majority of reactions are less severe. It is also sometimes described as "allergic shock" or "general allergic reaction" or "systemic allergic reaction". Anaphylaxis must always be taken seriously as it is impossible to know in advance how severe a reaction will be.

An anaphylactic reaction usually involves more than one body system. For example, a local reaction would be a wasp sting that causes swelling near the site of the sting. However if generalized hives and respiratory difficulties were to develop, it would be classified as an anaphylactic reaction.

An anaphylactic reaction can progress in severity very quickly. Without the immediate administration of epinephrine, death can result. (Epinephrine is a synthetic version of adrenaline, a hormone that occurs naturally in the body.)

There are deaths every year in Canada due to anaphylaxis and while the number is not large, many occur in young adults and teens and most are preventable. Families with anaphylactic children often feel overwhelmed since a considerable amount of effort must be put into avoidance strategies on a daily basis. They are frequently worried that others do not understand the condition and will not take the avoidance strategies seriously or will make choices based on incorrect information.

Most severe anaphylactic reactions result from insect stings, medications, food, latex and, in rare cases, exercise.

Source: The AAIA Anaphylaxis Reference Kit, an educational tool to improve the management of anaphylaxis across Canada.

Anaphylaxis: A Life Threatening AllergyAnaphylaxis: A Life Threatening Allergy (PDF version will open in a new window)

Learn how the 3 As will help you cope: Awareness, Avoidance, Action

CSACI guidelines for schools


Anaphylaxis in Schools & Other Settings, 3rd Edition*
*Note: These resources are for educational purposes only. Refer to the Copyright page of each document for additional information.

Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan with EpiPen® instructions
Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan with AllerjectTM instructions

Anaphylaxis Facts

Administration of H1N1 and Seasonal Influenza vaccine to egg allergic individualsAdministration of H1N1 and Seasonal Influenza vaccine to egg allergic individuals (PDF version will open in a new window)

Peanut and Nut Allergies: The Facts

Many people believe that peanuts and nuts come from the same botanical family. In fact, peanuts are a member of the legume family (peas, beans and lentils). Nuts grow on trees and sometimes are called tree nuts to distinguish them from peanuts. People allergic to peanuts are not necessarily allergic to tree nuts, and vice versa.
[View page 1 of our brochurePeanut and Nut Allergies: The Facts (page 1)(PDF version will open in a new window)]
[View page 2 of our brochurePeanut and Nut Allergies: The Facts (page 2)(PDF version will open in a new window)]

Milk Allergy: The FactsMilk Allergy: The Facts (PDF version will open in a new window)

Milk allergy results from a hypersensitivity of the immune system to the proteins in cow's milk. Symptoms can occur within minutes or hours of contact with milk... [read more...]

Egg Allergy: The FactsEgg Allergy: The Facts (PDF version will open in a new window)

Allergy to eggs is caused by the immune system's reaction to a protein in eggs. Two factors are necessary for a food allergy to occur - genetic predisposition and exposure to the food. The seriousness of reactions to eggs varies from mild to life-threatening, depending on the person and the amount of egg eaten. [read more...]

Sublingual Immunotherapy for Milk Allergy

by Eric Byrtus, Edmonton, AB

Tips for Teens When Eating Out

by Erika Ladouceur, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, QC

About Egg Allergen

Dr. Antony Ham Pong, MD FRCP, is an Ottawa-based allergist who responds to questions from an AAIA member about egg allergen

Holidays and Celebrations

For parents of food allergic children, holidays and celebrations are often filled with “anxious” anticipation instead of joyful anticipation. [read more...]

Food Groups

If you are allergic to one food and want to find out which foods belong to the same food group...[read more...]

More Protection for Students with Severe Allergies in British Columbia

British Columbia school districts are required to develop and implement anaphylaxis policies that meet new, rigorous provincial standards... [read more...]

Living with Anaphylaxis: Handling the Stress

by Mary Allen, Chief Executive Officer, AAIA

Towards "Certified Allergen Control"!

by Claire Dufresne, Executive director, Association québécoise des allergies alimentaires

The Food Industry and the Allergic Consumer

by Mary Allen, AAIA CEO

Milk Proteins and Allergy Medications

Information on milk allergy and asthma/allergy medications that have trace amounts of cow's milk protein [read more...]

A Guide for Parents/Students with Anaphylaxis

A partial checklist of responsibilities and actions. Implemented conscientiously, these suggestions will help make the school experience safe and positive for both the child and the school. [read more...]

"Growing Out" of Peanut Allergy: Our Family's Experience

by Nancy Wiebe, AAIA Volunteer

Watch out for "illegal" imports

Some imported items may have been meant for other markets. [read more...]

In Case of an Allergic Reaction to Food

Contact information for reporting to the Government of Canada. [read more...]

Summary: Opinion related to the evaluation of Lupin for labelling purposes

Lupin, a legume which includes over 450 species, is used for human and animal consumption. Lupin seeds have been part of normal food intake since ancient times... [read more...]

Proposed Regulatory Amendments to Enhance the Labeling of Priority Allergens in Foods

Health Canada has prepared regulatory amendments to enhance labeling requirements for specific priority allergens, gluten sources and sulphites in prepackaged foods sold in Canada. [read more...]

Teens and Anaphylaxis

by Lois King, AAIA Volunteer, Ottawa, ON

The Basics of Milk Allergy

by Gloria Shanks, Atlantic Regional Coordinator

Policy on anaphylaxis management in public placesPolicy on anaphylaxis management in public places (PDF version will open in a new window)

Next link will open in a new windowAnaphylaxis Emergency Plan form and auto-injector instructions

Labelling of Genetically Modified FoodsLabelling of Genetically Modified Foods (PDF version will open in a new window)

Report to House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, March 14, 2002

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