Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction caused when an individual is exposed to something that he or she is severely allergic to. The symptoms of anaphylaxis develop within seconds of the exposure to the potential allergen. Anaphylaxis causes the immune system to release string of chemicals which brings the entire body system into a state of shock. The blood pressure of the patient goes down rapidly along with respiratory rate.

Anaphylaxis causes airways to get constricted making breathing extremely difficult for the patient. The breathing becomes shallow and fast. The patient starts to feel dizzy and may even collapse and lose consciousness. There will be audible wheezing and tachycardia. The patient gets extremely anxious and tends to have an altered mental state. There is development of rashes and the skin becomes clammy.

Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency and the patient needs to be taken to the nearest emergency room as soon as the symptoms start to develop. Epinephrine and adrenaline are the frontline treatments for this condition. Post treatment the symptoms start to calm down almost immediately. Leaving Anaphylaxis untreated often proves fatal.

What Can Trigger Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is the result of the immune system reacting to a potential trigger or an allergen. In most cases, it is something that an individual is allergic to but there are also some cases where the individual may not be allergic to something but still gets anaphylaxis when exposed to it.

There are many triggers of anaphylaxis of which some of the common ones are:

  • Foods like peanuts, shellfish, milk, and eggs have a tendency to cause an anaphylactic reaction.
  • Certain antibiotics and over the counter pain relievers like aspirin also have a side effect profile of causing anaphylaxis.
  • Stings from insects like wasps or bees are perhaps the most common trigger for an anaphylactic reaction.
  • Some people get anaphylaxis when they are given general anesthesia before a surgical procedure
  • There are also cases of people getting anaphylactic reaction after being injected with contrast dyes for scans and other medical procedures. It is therefore recommended to tell the healthcare provider or the surgeon about any allergy to anesthesia or contrast dye before embarking on such procedures.
  • Latex which is type of a rubber is found in gloves is also one of the common trigger for an allergic reaction like anaphylaxis.
  • There are also cases where there is no obvious trigger identified but still the patient gets anaphylaxis. Such incidents are termed as idiopathic Anaphylaxis.
Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: October 23, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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