Anaphylaxis- Symptoms & Prevention
Medikoe Health Expert
Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru Feb 9, 2017
An allergic reaction can be uncomfortable, painful, and at times even fatal to life. The allergic reactions occur in the body when the immune system overreacts to a specific foreign substance and releases chemicals like histamine. This leads to allergies which is one of the most common symptoms. An allergic reaction can be mild as well as fatal, let’s talk about one such life-threatening allergic reaction.
Anaphylaxis is a potentially life-threatening condition. It is a reaction which the body develops when exposed to something it is allergic to. This results in their immune system releasing chemicals that flood the body, causing an anaphylactic shock. Your blood pressure levels drop and airways narrow, blocking normal breathing.
What causes Anaphylaxis?
An overreaction of your immune system causes anaphylaxis to something that it considers harmful (allergen). It then releases antibodies to fight the infection. Food allergy is one of the most common reasons behind an anaphylactic shock for children and adults. Medication can be another cause of an anaphylactic shock. It is not necessary that every time you come in contact with an allergen, you develop an anaphylactic shock, but it can develop over time.
Common triggers for anaphylaxis include:
- Certain medications such as penicillin
- Insect Stings
- Allergy to certain foods such as peanuts, soy, shellfish, gluten
- Agents used in immunotherapy
What are the symptoms of an Anaphylactic Reaction?
The stage one symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction look like a common allergy symptom: like stomach pain or a runny nose or a skin rash. But if the condition is not taken care of within 30 minutes, more severe signs appear, like:
- Constant coughing
- Dizziness, loss of consciousness, confusion, or weakness
- Wheezing along with chest and pain
- Runny or stuffy nose and constant sneezing
- Itching sensation, or tightness in the chest
- Hives, itchy, swollen, or red skin
- Trouble breathing
- Vomiting, diarrhea, or cramps
- Heart palpitation (Rapid heartbeat)
- Swollen lips or tongue
- Swollen or itchy throat, hoarse voice tightness in the throat
- Trouble swallowing
What are the risk factors?
Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and can cause some serious health risks:
- Brain damage
- Kidney failure
- Cardiogenic shock, a condition that causes the heart not to pump enough blood
- Arrhythmias, a heartbeat that is either too fast or too slow
- Heart attacks
- Blood test- To measure the amount of enzyme(tryptase) that can be elevated up to three hours after anaphylaxis
- Skin test- To determine allergies triggered
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that needs to be treated right away.
- Epinephrine (adrenaline)- Epinephrine shots are the first step towards managing an anaphylactic shock. Injecting epinephrine (adrenaline) can decrease the severity of the condition within a few minutes. If this doesn't happen, a second shot within half an hour can help. If still, the injection is not working, call doctor for emergency medical help because if it is left untreated, then it can be deadly.
- Oxygen Mask- It will help you in breathing
- Intravenous (IV) antihistamines and cortisone- It will help you to reduce inflammation of your air passages and improve breathing
- A beta- agonist- To relieve breathing conditions
Anaphylaxis is a hazardous and fatal condition that requires immediate medical attention. If you are allergic to a specific food or any other substances, try avoiding them entirely. You can talk to your doctor and carry emergency medications or epinephrine shots in case of any future attack.
What are other preventive measures?
Prevention is better than cure; hence there are few preventive measures that you can follow to keep anaphylaxis at bay:
- Avoid substances that cause the severe reaction
- To indicate you are allergic to a specific drug or other substances, wear a medical alert necklace or bracelet at all times
- Always keep an emergency kit with you. It should contain all the prescribed medications, an epinephrine auto injector, and all the necessary things prescribed by the healthcare specialist.
- Stay calm when you are near a stinging insect if you're allergic to stinging insects.
- If you are allergic to dust, pollens, etc. then wear long-sleeved shirts and pants. Avoid walking barefoot on the grass, and use a mask as much as possible.
- If you have food allergies, read the labels of foods you eat and buy. Check the manufacturing processes and ingredients. The best way to avoid food allergies is by cooking at home and eating. Stay assertive and stay safe!
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