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How to position a person having anaphylaxis

How to position a child or adult having a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) - A short animated film developed by the National Allergy Council. 

How should a person having anaphylaxis be positioned?

ASCIA Action Plans for Anaphylaxis include the following infographics that show the correct and incorrect positioning of a person having a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).

Infographic anaphylaxis posture lay sit stand

LAY PERSON FLAT - do NOT allow them to stand or walk

  • If unconscious or pregnant, place in recovery position - on left side if pregnant         
  • If breathing is difficult allow them to sit with legs outstretched
  • Hold young children flat, not upright If unconscious, place in recovery position
  • The person should NOT stand, walk, or be held upright, even if they appear to have recovered.

When a person has anaphylaxis their blood pressure can drop rapidly, which reduces blood flow to the heart:

  • Laying the person flat will increase blood pressure and help blood flow to the heart.
  • Standing or walking can make anaphylaxis worse by causing blood pressure to drop rapidly which reduces blood flow to the heart. 

Content updated April 2024