Anaphylaxis is a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur in response to certain allergens. It is characterized by a sudden onset of symptoms that may include hives, swelling, difficulty breathing, and a drop in blood pressure.
Various allergens, including certain foods, medications, insect stings, and latex, can cause anaphylaxis. In some cases, anaphylaxis can be caused by environmental triggers such as pollen, dust, or pet dander. Anaphylaxis occurs when the body’s immune system overreacts to an allergen, releasing a flood of chemicals that cause blood vessels to dilate and drop blood pressure. Anaphylaxis can be fatal if not treated immediately.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis typically develop quickly, within minutes to hours after exposure to the allergen. Common symptoms include:
If you suspect someone is having an anaphylactic reaction, seek medical help immediately. The most effective treatment for anaphylaxis is an injection of epinephrine, which can reverse the symptoms and help stabilize the patient. It is important to treat anaphylaxis as soon as possible, as it can quickly become life-threatening if not treated.
It is important to take steps to prevent anaphylaxis by avoiding known allergens and carrying an epinephrine auto-injector. If you have a known allergy, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about developing an anaphylaxis action plan.