Anaphylaxis is a dangerous allergic reaction. Those who experience anaphylaxis as a result of their allergies can take steps to better protect their health, including allergy testing or immunotherapy. At Silver Falls Dermatology, our providers can help patients in Oregon and Washington choose the best plan for their health.
What is Anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction. This reaction can be life threatening and typically presents an emergency. Anaphylaxis causes a release of chemicals from the immune system which can trigger shock. Blood pressure will drop suddenly and the airways will narrow, resulting in difficulty breathing.
What Causes Anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is caused by allergens. Some examples of common allergens include:
- Medications such as antibiotics, IV contrast, aspirin or other pain relievers
- Foods such as peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, soy, sesame or milk
- Insect stings, including bees, wasps, hornets, fire ants or yellow jackets
Anaphylaxis symptoms are severe and may be life-threatening. They usually occur within minutes of exposure to the allergen, but may be delayed for a half-hour or longer. Symptoms of anaphylaxis can include:
- Hives, itching, and pale or flushed skin
- Low blood pressure
- Airway constriction due to swollen tongue or throat
- Wheezing or difficulty breathing
- Dizziness or fainting
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
Anaphylaxis treatment typically includes injection of epinephrine (EpiPen) followed by emergency care. Patients may require oxygen, CPR, IV antihistamines or cortisone or a beta-agonist such as albuterol to relieve symptoms. Patients with known severe allergies should carry an epinephrine autoinjector (EpiPen) at all times in case of emergency.
Those experiencing anaphylaxis for the first time should seek allergy testing to better understand and avoid their allergen. Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, may be recommended to reduce allergic response.