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Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. The reaction can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure to an allergen. Common symptoms of anaphylaxis include a skin rash, difficulty breathing, swollen throat, and a rapid pulse. If left untreated, this condition can result in severe, sometimes fatal complications.

Symptoms

Anaphylaxis symptoms can occur within seconds of allergen exposure. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Skin reactions, including hives and itching
  • Swollen throat or swollen areas of the body 
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • A weak and rapid pulse
  • Wheezing
  • Pale or red color to the face and body

Causes

When a person comes into contact with an allergen, it releases histamine, a natural chemical that defends the body from the allergen. While most allergic reactions are not life-threatening, some peoples’ immune systems overreact to certain allergens, which can lead to anaphylaxis. Common anaphylaxis triggers include:

  • Food allergies, such as peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish and milk
  • Certain medications, including antibiotics, aspirin and other over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Insect stings
  • Latex

Treatment

The first step for treating anaphylaxis will likely be injecting epinephrine (adrenaline) immediately. Epinephrine will help reduce the severity of the reaction and acts on the whole body to shut down the allergic response by constricting the blood vessels. If one has had an anaphylactic reaction before, they should carry at least two doses of epinephrine at all times. If the reaction is severe, one should seek medical attention immediately.

With allergy skin testing, patch testing, and/or blood testing, we can discover hidden triggers, confirm suspected triggers, and provide additional treatments, including immunotherapy if appropriate. 

Contact Northeast Allergy, Asthma & Immunology today to schedule your appointment.

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