What is anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis is an allergic condition that can be severe and potentially fatal. Anaphylaxis is your body’s immune system reacting badly to a substance, such as food, which it wrongly perceives as a threat. Anaphylaxis should be treated as a medical emergency, requiring immediate treatment.
What are the symptoms of anaphylaxis?
The symptoms of anaphylaxis usually start between three and 60 minutes after contact with the allergen. When you have an anaphylactic reaction, you may feel unwell or dizzy or may faint because of a sudden drop in blood pressure. Narrowing of the airways can also occur at the same time, with or without the drop in blood pressure.
You may experience any of the symptoms below:
- swollen eyes, lips, genitals, hands, feet and other areas
- sore, red, itchy eyes,
- changes in heart rate,
- itchy skin or nettle-rash,
- unconsciousness due to very low blood pressure,
- abdominal cramps, vomiting or diarrhea, or
- nausea and fever.
What are the common triggers of anaphylaxis?
The triggers are:
(1) Food: nuts, shellfish, eggs, milk, wheat, soy, and sesame seeds.
(2) Medicines: penicillin and some other antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen, and anesthetics and some painkillers.
(3) Bee or wasp stings.
(4) latex (rubber).
(5) Exercise, and
(6) Exposure to cold air or water.
What are the risk factors for anaphylaxis?
If you’ve experienced anaphylaxis once, your risk of having this serious reaction is increased. Future reactions may be more severe than the first reaction. People who have asthma are at increased risk of having anaphylaxis. If you have family members who have experienced exercised-induced anaphylaxis, your risk of developing this type of anaphylaxis is higher than it is for someone without a family history.
What is the treatment of anaphylaxis?
During an anaphylactic shock, an emergency medical team may perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if you stop breathing or your heart stops beating. You may be given medications including:
- Epinephrine to reduce your body’s allergic response
- Oxygen, to help compensate for restricted breathing
- Intravenous antihistamines and cortisone to reduce inflammation of your air passages and improve breathing
- A beta agonist (such as Ventolin) to relieve breathing symptoms
Can anaphylaxis be prevented?
If you have had an anaphylactic reaction, doctors will perform some tests to find out what you are allergic to. Once you know the trigger, you can take steps to avoid it.
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