Anaphylaxis 2018-01-29T18:54:52-05:00


Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction. It is the worst reaction you can have to any allergen. Anaphylaxis is life-threatening and requires immediate attention. Whenever you have an allergy to something, your body automatically produces an immune response against it. IgE antibodies are like the weapons used to attack the allergen. In most cases, anaphylaxis happens due to food, insects, or medicine. Having an anaphylactic reaction to environmental things is rare. Everybody reacts differently to allergens. If you have never experienced anaphylaxis, you probably do not have any severe allergies. In most cases, severe allergies are diagnosed as a child and as you age, you learn to stay away from those things. If you have the proper tools and knowledge, you can avoid anaphylaxis and not only that but save your own life.

The immune system is a wonderful thing that our bodies are equipped with to help us fight infection. Whenever you get sick, the immune system comes to the rescue and fights off the infection. You still experience the symptoms, but when you feel bad, it is a result of the immune system doing its job to make you well again. Sometimes, though, the immune system gets it wrong. It begins to fight off things that are either not harmful to you or belong to you. It is like someone trying to cut off their finger. You will cause more harm than good. Autoimmune diseases are just that, they are diseases where the body attacks itself because it thinks something is harmful or foreign. Allergies are not an autoimmune disease, but it is a malfunction in the immune system. It is more like a hyperactive immune system.

You want your immune system to work properly, but what you do not want is your immune system to overwork. Allergies are an immune reaction to something that is not harmful to you. The body thinks it is, but it is not. When an allergen enters your system, the body goes into defense mode. You normally have to sneeze, experience itching, and if you swallow something, you may get diarrhea. This response is a result of the body recognizing something as harmful and producing IgE antibodies against it. Once those antibodies are produced, they attach to the allergen which creates histamine chemicals at the location of the connection. If histamines are created in the nasal cavity, you will probably start sneezing. If histamines are created in the digestive system, you may have diarrhea and vomiting. When you are experiencing anaphylaxis, the histamines are produced and instead of affecting one part of the body; it affects your whole body.

If you are experiencing anaphylaxis or going into anaphylactic shock, here are some symptoms that you will notice.

  • Sweating
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives
  • Dizziness
  • Panic
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Most of the time, all these symptoms happen all at once. Once you become exposed to an allergen, it only takes seconds for it to create a reaction. The worst case scenario is your body going into shock. Shock happens when the blood vessels constrict and prevent blood flow to organs and tissues. The cells begin to die, and if you are not treated immediately, you could die as well.

Every allergen does not cause anaphylaxis, but some common ones are linked to it. When it comes to medication, penicillin is the primary culprit. Doctors tend to use penicillin to treat any bacterial infection. If you are allergic to it, there are alternatives. Insects are a common cause of allergic reactions, but most insects that cause anaphylaxis are those with stingers. Bees, hornets, and Wasp are all famous for severe allergic reactions. Food is also a popular one and typically the thing that leads to most anaphylactic shock. People know when they are severely allergic to certain foods. They do not ingest it on purpose, but sometimes they do not get all the facts about what it is made of; which then leads them to try it and end up having a reaction. Common food sources are:

  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts
  • Seafood
  • Wheat
  • Shellfish
  • Milk
  • Eggs

There are other food sources, but these are usually the main ones. Other things that can cause anaphylaxis is latex allergies and allergies to anesthesia.

Anaphylaxis cannot be cured, but it can be treated. The best thing to do first is known which allergens create severe reactions. This can be done through a blood test or skin test. The doctor will expose you to minuscule amounts of the allergen and test the severity of the reaction. If you are susceptible to anaphylactic shock, the next step is to have a prescription epinephrine injection to keep with you at all times just in case you have a reaction. If you feel yourself going into anaphylactic shock, you need to insert that medication into a large muscle. Typically the thigh. The medication works fast and opens up those airways, but it wears off quickly. You have to seek medical attention right away because once it wears off, you need more medication to treat your symptoms. Sometimes the doctor will give you oxygen or an albuterol treatment to open your airways. They will also inject a steroid into the vein to keep the airways open and to keep the blood vessels from constricting.

Anaphylaxis is very serious and something you cannot afford to ignore. If you suffer from a severe allergy, it is something you typically know from childhood. There are times, as you age that your allergies become worse, but it is rare for them to create anaphylaxis. Keeping your medication with you at all times is the best thing you can do. Allergies do not have to ruin or end your life. Be aware of them and control them as best you can.


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