Anaphylaxis can be defined as an extremely fatal, life-threatening allergic reaction that usually occurs within seconds or minutes of exposure to some kind of allergen particles, one is allergic to. In many cases, people usually develop a rash or watery eyes or itchy skin due to allergens but in the case of anaphylaxis, the allergic reaction happens very fast and is quite deadly in nature. Also Read: Skin Allergies: What You Need to Know
Our body’s immunity usually shields itself from external microbes by producing antibodies. Sometimes some particles cause the immune system to go into overdrive by producing loads of chemicals putting the body into a complete shock. This sudden shock usually drops the blood pressure and constricts the airways thus preventing free breathing. Contrary to normal allergic reactions, anaphylaxis is usually life-threatening and takes a few minutes to show the reactions.
Allergens Causing Anaphylaxis
In children: Anaphylaxis is usually caused by shellfish, peanuts, fish, tree nuts, milk, egg, brinjal etc. Also Read: Food Allergies: Know The Causes and Symptoms
In adults: Apart from the allergens that cause anaphylaxis in children, adults usually respond allergically to latex, stings from bees, wasps, yellow jackets, fire ants and hornets and certain medications like over-the-counter pain relievers, intravenous medications, and certain antibiotics.
In certain cases, too much exercise in the form of aerobics, or jogging can also send the body into a shock.
Environmental factors like extreme hot or cold weather, dust, or direct sunlight can also trigger the body to release chemicals causing anaphylaxis.
Certain causative factors increase the risk of anaphylaxis. These include:
Previous Anaphylactic shock: People suffering from anaphylaxis in the past are prone to having it again.
Allergy: Individuals having a tendency of getting allergy are more at risk of anaphylaxis.
Health condition: Certain medical conditions like asthma, heart disease and mastocytosis (which is an abnormal accumulation of white blood cells) aggravate the risk of anaphylaxis.
Although this life-threatening situation usually happens within seconds or minutes of getting exposed to the triggering allergens, sometimes it may even take 30 minutes to 1 hour to develop symptoms. However, the common signs and symptoms include:
- Allergic skin reactions like hives, redness, swelling and flushed or pale skin
- Fall in blood pressure
- Weak or rapid pulse
- Swollen tongue
- Breathing trouble due to constriction of airways
- Cardiac arrest
- Abdominal pain
- Hoarse voice
An anaphylactic shock can be deadly and even stop the heart or breathing within minutes of getting exposed to the allergen.
Diagnosis And Treatment
It is strictly necessary to rush immediately to a hospital as soon as you notice any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms. The doctor usually acknowledges the particular allergen the patient was exposed to. He may also conduct some diagnostics including:
Blood Test to ascertain the level of tryptase that usually gets elevated on the onset of anaphylaxis.
Allergic skin test to analyse the type of allergen.
Treatment options usually include anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the inflammation, oxygen supply to support breathing and other medicines to reduce the body’s allergic response.