What is anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a severe condition that results from exposure to allergens. Actually, it is a reaction to these allergens. People who are anaphylactic react severely to food, venom, or even medication. In many cases, they are caused by bee stings or eating foods that causes allergies, for instance tree nuts and peanuts.

Anaphylaxis causes a wide array of symptoms that include a rash, shock and, low pulse. The shock is known as anaphylactic shock. If this is not treated on time, it may result in fatalities. Once you have been diagnosed, your physician will recommend that you go around with epinephrine. This will reduce the fatal nature of future reactions.

Identifying the signs of anaphylaxis

Symptoms show up immediately one comes into contact with an allergen. These may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Abdominal pain
  • Coughing
  • Rash
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble breathing
  • Facial swelling
  • Low pulse
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Itchy skin
  • Swelling in the throat and mouth
  • Shock

Causes of anaphylaxis

Every day, we come into contact with foreign substances. Our bodies then produce antibodies to safeguard itself from these substances. In many cases, the body does not react to the antibodies being released. However, in the case of anaphylaxis, the immune system reacts excessively to the extent that it causes a full allergic reaction in the body.

Anaphylaxis is caused by factors such as peanuts, medication, insect stings, shellfish, tree nuts, and milk. Other causes include latex and exercise.

Diagnosis of anaphylaxis

You may likely be diagnosed with anaphylaxis if you exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Mental confusion
  • Dizziness or weakness
  • Blue skin
  • Throat swelling
  • Facial swelling
  • Low blood pressure
  • Wheezing
  • Hives

Your breath will be monitored while you are in the emergency room. A healthcare provider will use a stethoscope to listen for crackling sounds while breathing. Crackling sounds may mean that you’ve got fluid in your lungs. After administration of treatment, you will be interviewed on your allergy history.

Treatment of anaphylaxis

If you know anyone who has anaphylaxis, or you’ve got it yourself, please do not hesitate to call 911.

If you’ve had a past episode, use your epinephrine medication at the onset of the symptoms and then call 911.

If someone close to you has an attack, reassure them that help is on the way. Allow the person to lie on his back, raise his or her feet up to 12 inches, and cover them with a blanket.

If the person has been stung, apply pressure to the sting using a plastic card. Allow the card to slide slowly towards the stinger, the flick the card upward to release the stinger from the skin. Do not use tweezers. If you squeeze it, the stinger will inject more venom. If there an emergency medication for allergies, do not hesitate to use it. Avoid administering oral medications if the victim has trouble breathing.

A CPR will be required if the person has stopped breathing or the heart has stopped beating.

People with anaphylaxis are usually given adrenaline at the hospital. Adrenaline is the common name for epinephrine. This medication minimizes the reaction. If you have already administered this medication to yourself, or someone has administered it to you, inform the healthcare provider.

Also, you may receive cortisone, oxygen, antihistamine, or a quick-acting beta-agonist inhaler.

Complications of anaphylaxis

Some people may get into an anaphylactic shock. Also, one may stop breathing or may experience blockage of the airway due to inflammation. At times, it may cause a heart attack. All these complications are very fatal.

How do you prevent anaphylaxis?

Stay away from allergens that can trigger a reaction. If you have a risk for anaphylaxis, your healthcare provider will give you an adrenaline medication to carry with you, such as an epinephrine injector, to counter the reaction.

The epinephrine medication is usually stored in a device known as an auto-injector. This is a small device with a syringe filled with a single dose of the medication. Once you begin experiencing symptoms of the disorder, press the auto-injector against the thigh. Check the medication’s expiry date regularly and replace any auto-injector that is due for expiry.  

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