Common anaphylaxis triggers

Triggers are substances that cause allergic or anaphylactic reactions. Triggers are specific to each person at risk; that means what makes one person react will not necessarily affect another person.
Allergies tend to run in families, but it is not possible to predict whether a child will inherit a parent’s specific allergy, or whether siblings will have the same conditions.1
Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe (anaphylaxis). Even if an initial reaction was mild, this doesn’t mean that all reactions will be similar. A food which triggered a mild reaction on one occasion may cause more severe symptoms at another time.1

Below you will find some of the most common triggers and advice on how to avoid them.

  • Food2

    While any food could potentially cause allergies, the most common triggers include :

    • Peanuts
    • Eggs
    • Cow’s milk (dairy)
    • Tree nuts
    • Wheat
    • Soy
    • Sesame seeds
    • Seafood (e.g. fish, crustaceans and shellfish)

    It is important to recognise that in some people, even the tiniest exposure to a trigger can cause an allergic reaction.

  • Insect Bites and Stings2,3

    The insects most likely to trigger severe allergic reactions are stinging insects. Stinging insects inject venom when they sting the skin. This venom can cause anaphylaxis.

    Stinging insects include:

    • Bees
    • Wasps
    • Ants including Jack Jumper and Fire Ants

    Anaphylaxis to biting insects (e.g. mosquitoes) happens rarely.

    It is important to note that insect repellent does not protect against stinging insects.

  • Latex Allergy4

    A latex allergy is an allergic sensitivity to the proteins in natural rubber latex (NRL). This reaction affects several systems throughout the body and often worsens with each exposure, potentially resulting in anaphylaxis.

    Unlike synthetic latex, which rarely causes allergic reactions, NRL comes from the milky sap of rubber trees. Using various processing methods, NRL is used alone or in combination with other materials to make thousands of products including:

    • Gloves
    • Condoms and diaphragms
    • Adhesive bandages
    • Medical equipment such as stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs, and tourniquets
    • Elastic
    • Balloons

    It is important to recognise that there is an association between reactions to latex and some foods. If you are allergic to latex, you may also notice a reaction to banana, avocado, kiwi, or passionfruit.

    Tell your doctor about any bad reactions you may have had to fruits and vegetables.

  • Medicines2,5,6

    Both prescription and non-prescription or over the counter medicines or drugs, may cause an allergic reaction. Medicines that can cause anaphylaxis include:

    • Penicillin and related antibiotics
    • Antibiotics containing sulfonamide
    • Aspirin, ibuprofen, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
    • Some antiseptics
    • Anaesthetic drugs
    • Complementary and alternative medicines
    • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Unknown causes: Idiopathic anaphylaxis2

    Sometimes anaphylaxis can occur without a known cause. This is called idiopathic anaphylaxis.

Warning signs

Sometimes, before an anaphylactic reaction occurs, a person experiences milder symptoms. These may include tingling of the skin or abdominal pain and vomiting. These early symptoms can be a useful warning that exposure to a trigger has occurred, and that treatment may be needed.7
Speak to your doctor about the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) and learn the warning signs for you or your child.

If you’re unsure if anaphylaxis is occurring it’s better to use EpiPen® Auto-Injector .1,8

Anaphylaxis = Severe allergic reaction. Trigger = allergen or something that causes allergic reaction

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Patients and Carers

Our new website is designed to support Australians who have been diagnosed with
severe allergies and are at risk of anaphylaxis.


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When collecting your EpiPen® or EpiPen® Jr Auto-Injector prescription, your pharmacist may try to switch it, or talk to you about switching to Anapen®.1

EpiPen® Auto-Injectors and Anapen® are not the same:2-4

EpiPen® takes just 2 steps to use.2,3

Anapen® takes more steps.4

EpiPen® has a Never-See-Needle.™2,3

Anapen®’s needle is exposed after use.4

  • Switching means retraining: You, your family, friends and caregivers must retrain to use a different device correctly if you have an anaphylactic attack2-4
  • Switching means a different ASCIA Action Plan: You will also need to get a new ASCIA Action Plan, specific to Anapen®5

Remember, you don’t have to change. It’s your choice6
Be specific and tell your GP and pharmacist that you want your EpiPen® Auto-Injector prescription.


  1. NPS Medicinewise. Brand equivalence — ‘a’ flagging explained. Available at: Accessed December 2021.
  2. EpiPen® Adrenaline (epinephrine) 300 μg/0.3 mL Auto-Injector. Consumer Medicine information. July 2021.
  3. EpiPen® Jr. Adrenaline (epinephrine) 150 μg/0.3 mL Auto-Injector. Consumer Medicine information. July 2021.
  4. Anapen® Consumer Medicine information. March 2021.
  5. ASCIA Action Plans for Anaphylaxis (RED). Accessed December 2021.
  6. Medical Director. Active Ingredient Prescribing is coming: here’s what you need to know. Accessed December 2021.

February 2022. EPI-2021-0567.