Anaphylaxis is caused by exaggerated response of the immune system that considers an otherwise harmless substance as an allergen.
The over-reactive immune system produces antibodies against the allergen during the first exposure.
Further exposure to the allergen triggers the production of histamines, which result in serious symptoms that are characteristic of anaphylaxis.
Normal allergic reactions to an allergen are not serious or fatal. But some reactions are so severe leading to anaphylaxis.
Some of the common triggers of anaphylaxis include
Food like peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, fish, shellfish, milk, and eggs.
Certain medications like penicillin, general anesthetic, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
Insect stings or bites
Anaphylaxis caused by some NSAIDs is not triggered by antibodies, although the symptoms are similar to that of allergy-induced reaction.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis caused by exercise vary from individual to individual. In some people aerobic activity triggers a reaction, while in some others simple activities like walking triggers a response.
Having a history of anaphylaxis, allergies, and asthma increases the chances of developing anaphylactic reaction.
Having a family history also increases the probability of anaphylaxis.
4 Making a Diagnosis
Diagnosis of anaphylaxis is based on symptoms.
Review of medical history reveals previous episodes of allergic reaction to an allergen.
Review of the cause of the symptoms like exposure to certain allergens like food, medications, or insect bite, is also suggested.
Skin test and blood test helps to confirm allergic reaction.
Confirmatory diagnosis is done after ruling out chances of other conditions that result in similar symptoms.
Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical treatment to alleviate the potentially life-threatening symptoms. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation helps to improve breathing and functioning of heart.
Management of anaphylactic reaction include
Emergency epinephrine shots – this helps to reduce the allergic response to an allergen
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