Preventing anaphylaxis  

If you have anaphylaxis, you should be offered advice and medication to help prevent further episodes.

Allergy clinic

You should be referred to a specialist allergy clinic for tests to find out what caused the anaphylaxis. Knowing what allergen triggered the allergic reaction can help you avoid further episodes of anaphylaxis.

Some of the tests commonly used to determine allergies include:

  • a skin prick test – your skin is pricked with a tiny amount of a suspected allergen to see if it reacts by becoming red, raised and itchy
  • a blood test – a sample of your blood is taken to test its reaction to a suspected allergen

Read more about diagnosing allergies and allergy testing.

Adrenaline auto-injectors

You may be prescribed an adrenaline auto-injector if you've had a previous episode of anaphylaxis and there's a risk of you having another episode in the future.

There are three types of auto-injector:

  • EpiPen
  • Jext 
  • Emerade

Each type is slightly different, and you should make sure you know how to use your auto-injector correctly.

You can also ask for a "trainer" kit so you can practise giving yourself or your child injections.

The following points are important:

  • Carry your auto-injector(s) at all times – there should be no exceptions. It may also be recommended that you get an emergency card or bracelet with full details of your allergy and doctor's contact details to alert others.
  • Extremes of heat can make adrenaline less effective, so don't leave your auto-injector in the fridge or your car's glove compartment.
  • Check the expiry date regularly. An out-of-date injector will offer limited protection.
  • The manufacturers offer a reminder service, where you can be contacted near the expiry date. Check the information leaflet that comes with your medicine for more information.
  • If your child has an auto-injector, they will need to change over to an adult dose once they reach 30kg (approximately 4.5 stone).
  • Don't delay injecting yourself if you think you may be experiencing the beginning of anaphylaxis, even if your initial symptoms are mild. It's better to use adrenaline early and then find out it was a false alarm than delay treatment until you're sure you are experiencing severe anaphylaxis.

Avoid triggers

If a trigger has been identified as causing your episode of anaphylaxis, you will need to take steps to avoid it in the future.


You can reduce the chances of being exposed to a food allergen by:

  • checking food labels
  • letting staff at a restaurant know what you're allergic to, so it's not included in your meal
  • remembering that some types of food may contain small traces of potential allergens – for example, some sauces contain wheat and peanuts

See our page on living with a food allergy for more information.

Insect stings

You can reduce your risk of being stung by an insect by taking basic precautions, such as:

  • moving away from wasps, hornets or bees slowly without panicking – don't wave your arms around or swat at them
  • using an insect repellent if you spend time outdoors, particularly in the summer

Some specialist allergy centres also offer special treatment to help desensitise you to insect stings if you are at a particularly high risk of a further sting – for example, if you are a beekeeper or gardener.

Read more about preventing insect stings.


If you're allergic to certain types of medicines, there are normally alternatives that can be safely used. For example, if you're allergic to:

Always tell any healthcare professional about medicine allergies you have, as they may not be aware of them.

Contrast agents

There may be times when it's necessary to use contrast agents – for example, if you had bleeding inside your brain – even if this places you at risk of anaphylaxis.

In such circumstances, you can be given injections of antihistamines and corticosteroids before the contrast agents, which may help prevent symptoms occurring or at least make them less severe.

Page last reviewed: 04/12/2014

Next review due: 04/12/2016