What Is Anaphylaxis?


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Anaphylactic shock generally arises within 20 minutes to 2 hours after exposure to the allergen. Taking effect in more than one system in the body, such as the skin, the gastrointestinal, cardiovascular or the respiratory systems. 

What is happening with Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylactic shock is the worst type of allergic reaction. An allergic reaction is when the immune system comes in contact with a substance that makes the body overreact or a ‘trigger’. These triggers are harmless to most people who come into contact with it. However, when it gives somebodies system a reaction, it is known as an allergen. 

An immune system having an allergic reaction creates antibodies to attack the allergen, which then sets off multiple immune system reactions. The body then releases and distributes chemicals like histamine kept in blood and tissue cells.

These chemicals cause swelling, and when blood vessels start to swell, it creates a dip in blood pressure, and other issues can result due to this.  For people with Anaphylaxis, even minor exposure to their allergy triggers can create a dangerous result and reaction. The immune systems can overreact to the degree that death can occur if the allergy is not treated as a medical emergency.

Anaphylaxis symptoms

Anaphylaxis is treated as an emergency because many symptoms come on quickly and can become life-threatening fast. The allergy symptoms include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tightness in the throat from swelling
  • Tongue and facial swelling
  • Wheezing or constant cough
  • A hoarse voice a, difficulty speaking
  • Becoming pale or limp (young children)
  • Collapsing or falling unconscious
  • Pain in the abdomen or vomiting
  • The appearance of hives, welts and body redness

General signs of anaphylactic shock

There are also smaller symptoms to look out for that are less dangerous anaphylactic symptoms that, include:

  • Flushed or reding skin
  • Hives
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach or abdomen pain
  • The sudden feeling of weakness
  • Swelling in or around the face, lips and eyes

These are not as alarming symptoms, but they need to be treated with the same level of urgency as other more serious symptoms. As anaphylactic shock comes on quickly and escalates, the earlier it is treated, the better.

What are the common triggers?

Allergens have a series of causes that would send someone into anaphylactic shock. The most common triggers include:

Foods such as

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Sesame
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Wheat
  • Soy

Bites and Stings from

  • Bee
  • Wasp
  • Ant stings

Medications that come from

  • Over the counter
  • Prescriptions
  • Herbal/alternative sources

How is Anaphylaxis treated?

Although Anaphylaxis is not curable, it can be managed, prevented or treated.

Adrenaline auto-injectors such as EpiPen and AnaPen should be carried by those at risk and available in most First Aid kits. The auto-injectors are designed so that anyone can use them at any time from friends, childcare workers, parents, teachers or a passer-by.

The usual spot for an injection on someone in anaphylactic shock is directly into the thigh.

The added adrenaline will reduce the effects of their reaction by constricting the blood vessels, relaxing muscles in the lungs to help with breathing and stimulating the heart rate to assist with bringing down swelling in the body. 

If you think someone is going into anaphylactic shock. In that case, you need to call 000 immediately to guarantee medical assistance arrives as soon as possible. You should call regardless of the persons seemed recovery due to an adrenaline shot.

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