Anaphylaxis is a serious, generalized allergic reaction that can be life threatening. When the body comes in contact with an allergen it is sensitive to, the immune system allergy antibodies (IgE) fight the allergens.
Symptoms can appear within seconds or minutes. On rare occurrences, they may show up within a few hours. Symptoms include hives, a red rash, itchy skin, eyes, face and throat, shortness of breath, drop in blood pressure, throat and tongue swelling, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Allergens that most commonly cause anaphylaxis include foods (peanuts, shellfish and dairy), medications, pet dander, stinging insects (wasps and bees) and chemicals. Anaphylaxis can be avoided and treated if you are aware of your allergies.
Once allergy tested, an Allergist may recommend immunotherapy, prescription antihistamines and an Epi-Pen. Immunotherapy helps build the body’s immune system against the allergen. At this time, it can only be administered for environmental and stinging insect allergies. After three years of immunotherapy, your allergist will re-test you to see if the reaction has lessened or been eliminated.
Many people who have tested positive for severe allergies carry Epi-Pens or Auvi-Q device depending on the type of allergy. These devices are an auto-injector that releases epinephrine to help treat anaphylaxis. Those with more severe allergies such as stinging insects and peanuts carry them for quick relief until they receive medical attention.
If you are with someone who goes into anaphylaxis, call 911. Some patients wear an allergy pendant or bracelet, or carry an allergy card on them, which can help identify what they may have come in contact with.
If you are concerned about possible allergies, or have a family history of allergies, schedule an appointment with an Allergist. After discussing your concerns and going over family history, they will perform necessary allergy testing. It’s never too late and you do not have to live with allergy symptoms!