Anaphylaxis Signs You Should Know

What is anaphylaxis? 

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening emergency allergic reaction that occurs within seconds or minutes of being exposed to an allergen. Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction to allergens that could lead to death, that needs urgent assistance. And it is estimated to occur in about 2% of the population worldwide (4 – 100 people per 100,000 each year). It is more common in young people and women.

What are the most common triggers of anaphylaxis? The more common triggers of anaphylaxis are insect stings, foods, and medications.

What are the symptoms of anaphylaxis?

Here are the signs and symptoms of Anaphylaxis:

  • Flushing of the skin with severe itching and hives.
  • Swollen legs, arms, and any other areas with direct contact with the allergen
  • Gasping for breath/difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
  • Severe angioedema (swelling) of the face that leads to difficulty opening the eyes. This swelling is reported to appear with a burning sensation around the face.
  • Feeling like your throat is closing up
  • Wheezing
  • Swollen tongue
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Feeling faint/fainting
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety (agitation)
  • Generalized weakness
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Crampy abdominal pain
  • Cold extremities
  • Cold, clammy skin (cold sweaty skin)
  • Swelling of the conjunctiva
  • Hoarseness
  • Cough
  • Pain with swallowing
  • Inability to control bladder
  • Headaches

What can cause anaphylaxis?

  • Insect bites and stings, for example, a bee sting, wasps, fire ants, kissing bugs, and yellow jacket sting.
  • What foods cause anaphylaxis? Certain foods, such as mushrooms, peanuts, fish, shellfish, cow’s milk, eggs, soy, gluten-containing foods, tree nuts e.t.c
  • Latex exposure, for example, rubber gloves, condoms, and house paints.
  • Aerobic Exercise such as walking or running triggers Anaphylaxis in very few amounts of people (exercise-induced anaphylaxis)
  • What type of medication is the most common cause of anaphylaxis? Medications such as antibiotics, Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and chemotherapy.
  • General anesthetic
  • Contrast solution used for imaging
  • Change in temperature (hot or cold)
  • Semen
  • Food additives and food coloring
  • Vaccines: such as MMR, Varicella, influenza, hepatitis B, meningococcal, tetanus, and Human papillomavirus vaccine have been known to trigger Anaphylaxis in some people who had taken them. 

Prevention Of Anaphylaxis

  • Identify trigger (allergen) and stay away from that allergen.
  • Carry your Epi-pen (Epinephrine auto-injector) when going out.
  • Immunotherapy can be used to desensitize some people to certain food.

What is the treatment for Anaphylaxis?

  • Place the person flat on a flat surface
  • Inject Epinephrine directly into the muscle (intramuscularly) of the thigh.
  • Antihistamines (Benadryl, Loratadine, Famotidine and Cimetidine).
  • Steroids (Dexamethasone)
  • Epinephrine auto-injector is usually prescribed for future episodes.
  • Supplemental oxygen