Anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock, is a severe allergic reaction that affects the whole body. It can lead to death.
Anaphylaxis is a response to a substance to which a person has become very sensitive. An antibody called IgE causes cells to release a variety of substances called mediators. These mediators are responsible for the allergic reaction. They affect blood vessels, smooth muscle, and inflammatory cells all over the body.
The symptoms of anaphylaxis may include: abdominal distress and diarrheacough, sneezing, and nasal congestiondizzinessnausea and vomitingsevere itching and hives all over the bodyshortness of breathswelling of the face or tongueswelling over much of the bodytightness in the chest or throat
Anaphylaxis is often an allergic reaction to one of the following: aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofencontrast agents, which are injected for some special X-ray testsfoods, such as nuts, berries, eggs, beans, seafood, grains, and chocolatehormones, including insulin and progesteronelatex rubberlocal anesthetics, such as lidocaine and procainepenicillin, cephalosporins (i.e., Ceclor, Keflex), and other antibioticsphysical stimuli, including exercise and cold airpollen from plantsvenom from a snakebitevenom from spiders, yellow jackets, hornets, or honeybees
The best way to prevent anaphylaxis is to avoid any substance that has caused a severe reaction in the past. Persons who are sensitive to insect bites or bee stings should avoid walking with bare feet.
Anaphylaxis is usually diagnosed with a medical history and physical exam.
Anaphylaxis can be fatal. After recovery from an episode, there are no long-term effects.
Anaphylaxis is not contagious and poses no risk to others.
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. The emergency medical system should be contacted immediately. Anaphylaxis is treated by a shot of epinephrine given under the skin or into the muscle. The dose can be repeated depending on how the person responds.
Other medicines used to treat anaphylaxis include the following: antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine (i.e., Benadryl)bronchodilators, such as albuterol (i.e., Proventil)corticosteroids, such as methylprednisolone (i.e., Medrol)H2-receptor blockers, such as cimetidine (i.e., Tagamet)
Oxygen and intravenous fluids are given. If breathing becomes difficult, a tube may need to be inserted to help the person breath.
Many of the medicines used to treat anaphylaxis cause a rapid heartbeat and increased blood pressure. However, these side effects are minimal when compared to the likely fatal outcome of anaphylaxis without treatment.
Someone who experiences anaphylaxis should work with the healthcare provider to identify his or her triggers. A medical bracelet that states what the person is allergic to should be worn at all times. People with severe allergies may carry either a portable syringe containing epinephrine (i.e., Epi-Pen, Epi-Pen Jr.). These devices contain epinephrine to prevent anaphylaxis and can be injected quickly into the thigh by ther person himself or a bystander.
Anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. The emergency medical system should be contacted immediately if symptoms recur.