Basic Information About Anaphylaxis


When someone has a severe allergy, it means that they are suffering from a deadly allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. It can occur very fast, just within a couple of minutes of exposure to the allergen. The most common anaphylactic reactions are to a particular food, insect stings or bites, medications, and latex.

As an anaphylaxis case is diagnosed, it requires an immediate medical treatment. This includes a trip to the emergency department and an injection of epinephrine. If it is not treated urgently, it can be fatal.


In the case of being allergic to a foreign substance, your immune system overreacts to this allergen by setting off a chemical chain reaction that causes allergy symptoms. For most cases, allergy symptoms aren’t that serious or life-threatening. But some people may suffer from a potentially severe allergic reaction, which is actually an Anaphylaxis. People who have allergies, asthma, or have a family history of anaphylaxis have a higher risk of this reaction. Even if a patient has experienced only a mild one in the past, there is still a risk of more severe anaphylaxis.

There is a wide range of allergens that can cause anaphylaxis.

Most common anaphylaxis triggers can include:

  • Certain medications, especially penicillin
  • Foods, such as peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews), wheat (in children), fish, shellfish, milk, and eggs
  • Insect stings from bees, yellow jackets, wasps, hornets and fire ants

Less common causes of anaphylaxis are:

  • Latex
  • Medications used in anesthesia
  • Exercise

Exercise is one of the causes of anaphylaxis may sounds surprisingly. But for some people, aerobic activities, such as jogging, swimming, also cause the reaction. While others, less intense physical activity, such as walking, can trigger a reaction. Eating certain foods before exercise or exercising, when the weather is hot, cold or humid, also link to anaphylaxis in some people.

Signs and Symptoms

Not everyone who has anaphylaxis will experience the same thing. Symptoms of this allergic reaction usually start within just minutes of exposure to an allergen. But sometimes, they may take longer time, more than 30 minutes to an hour, to be noticeable.

The followings are anaphylaxis symptoms and they may affect more than one part of the body:

  • Skin reactions, including hives along with itching, and flushed or pale skin
  • A feeling of warmth
  • The sensation of a lump in your throat
  • Constriction of the airways and a swollen tongue or throat, which can cause wheezing and trouble breathing
  • Coughing
  • Shock
  • Pale or red color to the face and body
  • A weak and rapid pulse
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Dizziness or fainting

What is ”anaphylactic shock”?

Anaphylactic shock happens when there is inadequate blood flow to critical organs of the body during an anaphylaxis. Shock can be just one of the many signs of a severe allergic reaction. Not all patients will go into shock during anaphylaxis. Some people may find it nearly to stop breathing or experience airway blockage due to the inflammation of the airways. Anaphylactic shock can also cause a heart attack. All of these difficult situations are possibly life-threatening.

Remember the follow emergency medical help if you, your family members or someone else you know have a severe allergic reaction. Having an accurate diagnosis and successful action plan for allergies is essential.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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