22 February 2024

Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis symptoms usually occur within minutes of exposure to an allergen. Sometimes it can occur a half-hour or longer after exposure.

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What to look for

What to look for

A short animation explaining the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms

Anaphylaxis should always be treated as a medical emergency requiring immediate treatment.

Delayed administration of adrenaline can be life threatening.



One or more of these symptoms is a sign of anaphylaxis:

  • difficult/noisy breathing
  • swelling of tongue
  • swelling/tightness in throat
  • difficulty talking and/or hoarse voice
  • wheeze or persistent cough
  • loss of consciousness
  • collapse
  • pale and floppy (young children).

Source: Guidelines for early childhood services and schools. Allergy New Zealand (opens in a new tab/window)

Recognise food allergy symptoms

Recognise food allergy symptoms

Examples of how young children with food allergies might communicate their symptoms.

  • It feels like something is poking my tongue.
  • My tongue (or mouth) is tingling (or burning).
  • My tongue (or mouth) itches.
  • My tongue feels like there is hair on it.
  • My mouth feels funny.
  • There’s a frog in my throat.
  • There’s something stuck in my throat.
  • My tongue feels full (or heavy).
  • My lips feel tight.
  • My throat feels thick.
  • It feels like a bump is on the back of my tongue or throat.

Source: Food Allergy Research and Education (opens in a new tab/window)

Ask family and whānau

Ask family and whānau

Younger children may not be able to communicate their symptoms.

Ask parents:

  • the signs you need to be aware of
  • how their child communicates symptoms
  • if their child has ever had anaphylaxis.

Useful resources

Useful resources


Anaphylaxis resources

Downloadable posters, action plans, checklists, adrenaline autoinjector information, anaphylaxis guidelines, ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training courses, translations of anaphylaxis information, and general allergy information.

Publisher: Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy

Visit website

Allergy and Anaphylaxis Guidelines thumbnail v2

Allergy and Anaphylaxis Guidelines for Schools and Kura

Read time: 37 min

Guidelines to support school leadership, management, and teachers throughout New Zealand to manage allergies and anaphylaxis.

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What is anaphylaxis?

Read time: 3 min

This information sheet explains the causes, diagnosis, management, and treatment of anaphylaxis.

Publisher: Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia

Download PDF

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Recognise and respond to allergic reactions”:

Return to the guide “Allergies and learning”