Anaphylactic Shock


Last Updated June 17th, 2019

What is anaphylaxis?

It is an allergic reaction that is severe and potentially life-threatening.  Anaphylactic shock can affect a person within seconds or minutes of exposure to the allergen.  Anaphylaxis occurs when the immune system releases large amounts of chemicals to fight the allergen.  This causes the body to go into shock where the blood pressure plummets suddenly and the airways become narrow, blocking breathing.  Signs and symptoms may vary depending on the severity and generally include weak pulse, skin rash, nausea, and vomiting.

Triggers may come from a wide source including certain foods, medications, insect venom, and latex.  Anaphylactic shock usually requires a trip to the emergency room with immediate epinephrine treatment.  Failure to treat the symptoms on time may be fatal.  A single dose of epinephrine will reverse the symptoms within a few minutes.  A second shot may be required within 30 minutes if the symptoms do not reverse with the first dose.

What are the major causes?

The most common cause of anaphylactic shock includes the following:

  • Certain foods namely nuts, seafood, egg, etc.
  • Insect stings such as bee and wasp stings.

An allergic reaction is generally caused because of the allergen present in the food, drug, or the insect sting.  This allergic reaction generally occurs after the first exposure to an allergen and the subsequent exposure causes a severe allergic reaction.  The same is applied to the anaphylactic shock where the first exposure is mild and the subsequent exposure is severe.  This occurs as the immune system identifies the allergen from the first exposure and tries to subdue it by releasing a certain chemical.

Anaphylaxis Symptoms

As discussed earlier, the symptoms of anaphylactic shock will take effect within a few minutes of exposure to the allergen.  In some rare cases, it may take more than an hour to experience anaphylactic symptoms.  The symptoms may occur in multiple areas of the body and may include:

  • Itchy red rash associated with hives/welts.
  • Swelling in the throat or another part of the body.
  • Chest tightness.
  • Breathing problems and cough.
  • Hoarse voice.
  • Swallowing issues.
  • Stomach cramping.
  • Discoloration of the face and body.

When to see a doctor?

Immediate medical help needs to be administered in the form of epinephrine to reverse the symptoms of anaphylaxis.  If a child is affected with anaphylaxis and there is no epinephrine shot available, it is advised to not wait for the symptoms to deplete.  You are advised to immediately rush to the emergency room to seek medical help.  On the other hand, if you have a shot of epinephrine available, administer it immediately and then go to the doctor for further care.  This is important to make sure the symptoms do not recur.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis of anaphylactic shock can be confirmed based on the following symptoms:

  • Sudden fall in blood pressure, confusion, alternating weak and rapid pulse, which the signs of shock.
  • Difficulty breathing and wheezing due to the narrowing of the respiratory
  • Other symptoms confirming the diagnosis may include angioedema, nausea, hives, as well as other digestive symptoms.

It should be noted that the treatment is given immediately since the symptoms can very soon become life-threatening.  In a scenario where there are only mild symptoms experienced, the diagnosis can be confirmed with the help of blood or urine tests.  A scratch test may be required in case of skin allergies.

Management and Treatment

As discussed earlier, the treatment for anaphylactic shock should be started immediately.  Two injections of auto-injector should be kept with you at all times.  Some useful tips to reduce the risk are discussed below:

Know your source of reaction: If you have experienced an anaphylactic reaction, it is important to find what triggered the reaction.  You can visit an allergist, who can determine the diagnosis by reviewing your medical history and conduct some diagnostic tests.  Some of the most common triggers are discussed below:

  • Food: The most common foods account for allergy reaction includes peanuts, walnuts, seafood, cow’s milk, and eggs.
  • Latex: It is the most commonly used material in various industries.  The uses range from disposable gloves, adhesive tapes, syringes, intravenous tubes, and catheters.  People using these products are at higher-risk for latex-induced anaphylaxis.
  • Medication: Several medications are known to cause anaphylaxis such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, penicillin, and aspirin.
  • Insect sting: Anaphylaxis related to insect stings can be fatal and the insects responsible include bees, wasps, fire ants, etc.

Avoid your trigger: Once you have determined the trigger, it is now the time to avoid it to prevent future reactions such as developing specific avoidance measures.  These measures should be specific and should concentrate on your activities, hobbies, occupation, home environment and access to medical care.  Some of the techniques that can be used to avoid these triggers include:

  • Food allergies:  Simple precautions can be helpful in avoiding this type of reactions such as review all food ingredient labels carefully for potential allergens, inquire with the restaurant how food is prepared and what ingredients are used.  If your child has a history of anaphylaxis, make sure to let the school know about the problem and information of the child’s condition and treatment plan such as the administration of epinephrine.
  • Medications:  It is important to speak to your doctor and make him aware of any reactions you have had to medications.  This will help the doctor to prescribe safe alternatives.  In this scenario, you may be a candidate for desensitization.  During this treatment, you are introduced to a small dose of the medication you are allergic to and as your body becomes more tolerant to the medication, the dosage can be increased over time.
  • Insect stings:  To avoid this you need to follow some basic rules such as avoid walking barefoot in the grass, wearing bright colored clothing, apply sweet smelling perfumes or hairsprays.  You can get venom immunotherapy from your allergist for insect sting allergy.  The treatment works by preventing future allergic reactions to insect stings.

Be prepared: Identifying the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis is important.  At a worst case scenario, if you come in contact with any trigger, you should follow the necessary treatment plan as instructed by your doctor such as self-administration of epinephrine.  Make sure to update the epinephrine auto-injector.  Extra care should be taken to inform the school and other places where the child visits and the anaphylaxis associated with the child.  Make to educate the school about the treatment methods and how to go about if the child comes in contact with the allergen.

Action guide

Be S.A.F.E. action guide has been formulated by allergists and emergency physicians to help you remember the steps that have to be followed:

Seek immediate medical help:  Call the ambulance and reach the nearest emergency facility at the first sign of anaphylaxis.  It is important to understand that if you have had an anaphylactic reaction in the past, you are at risk of future reactions.

Identify the Allergen:  Try to be a detective by finding what you might have eaten or come in contact with.  It could range from food, medication, insect sting, or even latex use.  Identifying the cause is the most important aspect to prevent anaphylaxis.

Follow up with a specialist:  Your doctor would recommend you to visit an allergist/immunologist.  This allergist specializes in treating allergies and helps you to find out the trigger and the solution for it.  You may be subjected to some basic allergy tests to confirm the disease.

Epinephrine Kit for emergencies:  Fast-acting and self-administered epinephrine kits are prescribed to the patients who are at risk of anaphylaxis.  Make a point to carry one always with you, as you may not know when you will require using it.  There is no harm in wearing an emergency medical bracelet with the identification of the allergies you are at risk.

Preventing an anaphylactic shock

It is more easily said than done, but avoiding the allergen seems to be the best chance of prevention.  People who have experienced an allergy attack due to insect stings may choose for long-term immunotherapy and are recommended to carry a self-injecting syringe of epinephrine and antihistamine pills for immediate treatment.  It is recommended to inject the medication immediately at the onset of symptoms and not to wait until the symptoms become aggravated.  This should be followed by a visit to the emergency room where the patient should be monitored for recurring symptoms.  It is highly recommended to wear a medical alert bracelet with allergies listed on it.


TL;DR?

Anaphylactic shock infographic

Related Conditions

Want to live a healthy lifestyle?

Subscribe to free FactDr newsletters.

REVAMP YOUR

If you're enjoying our website, we promise you'll absolutely love our new posts. Be the first one to get a copy!

Get factually correct, actionable tips delivered straight to your inbox once a week.

I want the latest scoop on :

We hate spam too. We will never share your email address with anyone. If you change your mind later, you can unsubscribe with just one click

By clicking Subscribe, I agree to the FactDr Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of FactDr subscriptions at any time.

Display this infographic on your website

 

 

 

 

Related Conditions

Trending Topics

anal sex
Anal Sex : Tips from experts on how to be kinky yet safe Whether it irks you or stokes your fantasies, anal sex has always been an intriguing sexual act. Learn…
Clitoris: Why is it called the gateway to toe-curling female orgasms? The word clitoris comes from the Greek word kleitoris or “little hill.”  Many compare the female clitoris to…
Chromium Picolinate: An essential mineral supplement for faster weight loss Did you know that about 1.6 million deaths were directly linked to diabetes globally? How is it linked…
Find the G spot: The top sex positions that guarantee an orgasm There has been a long debate as to whether the G-spot actually exists as a separate organ.  Can…
diverticulitis diet
Diverticulitis diet: The right way to eat if you suffer from the disease Are you suffering from diverticultis but clueless about your diet ? Read this complete plan for diverticulitis diet…
Penis pump: Pump your way out of erectile dysfunction One of the options to treat erectile dysfunction is by the use of a penis pump. It is…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can it protect you…
Organic Foods: Is the popularity of pesticide-free food justified? What does the term "organic" really means? And why are organic foods credited as being healthier than normal…
Maltitol: Things you must know about this artificial sweetener Sugar alcohols are produced by fruits and vegetables. Maltitol is an artificially produced sugar alcohol and is used…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
calories healthy
Calories: How to keep a check on these for faster weight loss Did you know you can burn calories while sleeping? Calorie-burning is what causes weight loss. How much should…
Female Masturbation: Tips on how to turn up the heat during a solo mission As a female, do you find yourself constantly wondering as to what is the best way to please…
Atkins diet weight loss
Atkins Diet: The right steps to carb control that can help you lose those pounds fast The Atkins diet is a high fat, low-carb diet with proven weight loss benefits that is flexible enough…
Stye : The best natural home remedies to ease the pain Styes developing inside the eyelid tend to be more painful whereas external styes are less painful and ooze…
The science behind daith piercing: Can it really cure migraine? Since the ear has several pressure points, it is believed that daith piercing activates the vagus nerve and…
Astaxanthin: Why experts believe it could be 550x more potent than vitamin E! What is astaxanthin and why is this new supplement on the block touted as the most powerful antioxidant…
Top 6 remedies to treat a razor burn at home Symptoms of razor burn include bumps on the skin, redness, and irritation of the skin. Find easy and…
hidden benefits walking
9 benefits of walking we bet you didn’t know! Did you know walking can be the miracle pill for eternal youth? Everyone knows walking is good for…
Milk Thistle skin
Milk Thistle: Find possible cures for fatal diseases in these purple blooms Milk thistle is well-known for treating liver conditions. However, did you know that it comes with a plethora…
Lectin: The common link of proteins between peas and people Lectins are a type of protein that are found majorly in legumes. Most people are find it easy…
eating disorder anorexia
Eating Disorders: Lifestyle choice or a psychological condition? Is eating disorder just a harmless bad habit? Or does it represent grim psychological disorders? Do you want…
waterchestnut
Water Chestnuts: The tastiest ways to include this healthy tuber in your diet Water chestnut is not a nut after all. It is a tuber (much like the potatoes) growing close…
alcohol toxic
7 startling facts that will make you quit alcohol today Does drinking really make you friendly and happy? How many calories does a can of cold beer add…
social media adddiction
Your health in the age of Social Media: Why is digital detox a necessity? Did you know that more than 400 million people are dangerously addicted to social media? Are you one…
How to scrub away stress and fatigue with an Epsom salt bath? Epsom salt is a popular home remedy for many skin ailments. Though there is a lack of scientific…
Vitamin K2: 8 reasons why you need this bone-building & cancer-fighting nutrient Vitamin K2 is claimed to be essential for your bone health, for reducing the risk of cancer, and…
TBHQ: A carcinogen lingering in your child’s favorite snacks TBHQ - Why you should shun the practice of eating instant noodles or microwave popcorn to get rid…
Jicama: A fiber-rich tuber for your weight loss goals Pronouced as HEE-kah-ma, Jicama is the "new kid on the block" that has taken the world by the…
Improve sex life
9 best tips from around the world for better sex life How can the pungent-smelling garlic pack in a punch to your libido? How could something as slimy as…
maltodextrin sugar
Maltodextrin: What are the hidden health benefits of this food additive? Maltodextrin is one of the few food additives that has been relatively deemed safe. Many experts now have…
Salt dangers
Sodium chloride: The wonders and dangers of the simple table salt Sodium chloride is a salt containing sodium and chlorine ions at a 1:1 ratio. It is edible and…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
CLA: A breakthrough weight loss supplement with minimal side effects Tried every weight loss supplement in the market with no substantial gain? Why not try CLA supplements, derived…
Tamarind: The top health benefits of this staple Asian ingredient Did you know this sweet and sour pulpy fruit does more than just add a tangy flavor to…
Hydroquinone: Is it the best topical treatment for hyperpigmentation? Darkening of the skin due to high melanin levels is called hyperpigmentation.  Hydroquinone interferes with melanin production thus treating…
Quinine: How gin and tonic came to be known as a potent health elixir The discovery of quinine-containing tree bark is sometimes considered the most serendipitous medical discovery of the 17th century.
liver detox facts
7 liver detox facts and why ignoring these could kill you! Are you taking care of this organ that handles over 500 different vital functions in your body? Your…
erectile dysfunction treatment
Erectile Dysfunction: Effective tips to help you get back on charge Erectile dysfunction is a common male sexual dysfunction. Don't stress out. Just follow these amazing tips to get…
Silicon Dioxide: How can a component of sand be essential to your wellbeing? Silicon is one of the most abundant elements in the nature. Find out how silicon dioxide can prove…
Trisodium Phosphate: How a paint thinner made its way into your breakfast Ever thought how toxic chemicals find their way into our foods? How can they harm our body? And…
How do neutrophils protect you from fatal bacterial attacks? During an infection, certain enzymes alert the mature neutrophils.  Neutrophils then travel through the bloodstream to the affected…
These are the top foods to increase your hemoglobin count It is important to add iron-rich foods into your diet in order to increase hemoglobin. Deficiency of hemoglobin could…
dance health benefits
5 unbelievable effects of dance on your overall health! You enjoy dancing, but did you know what else it does to your body? Dancing is not only…
yoga health benefits
How to practice yoga for astounding health benefits Can a 5000-year-old system be the ultimate body healer? Did you know yoga can make you smarter and…
occupational hazards types
Occupational Hazards: How to vouch for your health at your workplace Occupational hazards affect millions worldwide. Chemical spills, faulty wires, deadly pathogen, and work-stress can happen anytime. Follow these…
Spirulina: Battle diabetes and cholesterol with this blue-green algae Spirulina, a species of salt water algae, has now become a billion dollar industry. How you can use…
Piaget stages: Do they accurately describe the way the human brain develops?  A common assumption was that children are less competent thinkers as compared to adults, but this was refuted…
What is the eustachian tube and how does it help you maintain body balance? Pressure equalization, mucus drainage and protecting the middle ear from bacteria and viruses are the three important functions…
Electric toothbrush vs manual toothbrush: Who wins the dental war? Manual brushes are ideal for kids as it is important to start slowly unlike the electric brushes which…
hidden causes obesity
8 hidden causes of obesity you probably didn’t know! Did you know that around 2 billion people worldwide are either overweight or obese? Are you too a…
lifestyle diseases
The Big 5 lifestyle diseases: How your everyday living might be killing you You'd be shocked to know how unhealthy and potentially fatal your everyday routine could be. Has the modern…
MANUKA HONEY child
Manuka Honey Manuka honey is a specific type of honey produced by honey bees that collect nectar from the flowers…
kefir bottle
Kefir: Top reasons why this probiotic drink should be consumed by you Yet another remarkable fermented food, kefir is a much healthier version of yogurt. These chewy white grains can…
How seitan proved to be a blessing in disguise for vegans worldwide Can only meat-eaters enjoy delicious juicy steaks and burgers? With seitan, the best meat substitute available today,even vegans…
RHABDOMYOLYSIS muscle cramps
The hidden dangers of magnesium deficiency and how you can prevent it Magnesium is an essential mineral for the body.Its deficiency can cause harm to your vital organs. Find out…
carrageenan seaweed
Carrageenan: How a simple seaweed extract could better your gut health & immunity Eat more ice cream to prevent cold and flu? –With carrageenan you get one simple seaweed extract that…
tips for perfect sleep
Stop hitting the snooze button: 8 proven steps to perfect sleep Are you tired of not getting enough sleep? All your efforts for a sound sleep going in vain?…
autoimmune diseases facts
Autoimmune Diseases: Find out if your body is attacking you right now Did you know your body can harm itself? What are autoimmune diseases and why does it harm some…
Amaranth: Why is this native Peruvian grain called the “crop of the future”? Full of healthy high proteins and gluten-free, the grain, Amaranth, the tasty and ancient pseudo cereal from Peru,…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
Aphrodisiacs
Aphrodisiacs: These are the best foods to get you in the right mood While wine and chocolates have forever been associated with romance, there are several other aphrodisiac foods that can…
Orgasms: How to perfect the art of achieving intense bursts of pleasure (every time!) Orgasms are dependent not just on the sexual activity but on your partner as well. What you must…
boost immunity tips
Step up your defence: 15 proven tips on how to boost your immunity Want to naturally build up a stronger immunity? Tired of frequent colds and runny nose?You will never believe…
Garlic health benefits cloves
Garlic: Nature’s white pill as an effective home remedy What are the secrets hidden in these tiny white pills? Find out the immense health benefits of using…
lgbtqia
LGTBQIA : Important pointers for a safe and healthy sex life In the USA alone, the LGBTQIA community accounts for 11 million people. Let us understand what does this…
How accurate is the hair follicle drug test? Hair follicle drug test is one of the best ways to identify drug use in professional circles. But…
What is the average penis size and why should you care? Scientifically speaking, the average size of the penis depends on numerous factors such as genes, environmental circumstances, etc.
CBC blood test
CBC blood test CBC blood test refers to the complete blood count test that measures the number of RBCs, WBCs, etc…
nature health benefits
Green Healing: The amazing health benefits of being in nature You have no idea what sitting in a closed room does to your body and mind.Can a stroll…
about mediterranean diet
Why you should be adopting a Mediterranean style of diet today Ever wondered why the Mediterranean diet is so healthy? One simple solution to lowering risk of several deadliest…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
Fluoride: An indispensible mineral or a potential toxin ? Fluoride, the main ingredient of toothpaste, has shown a great potential as a cleanser. However, how much fluoride…
vital organ diseases
Common diseases that could cripple your vital organs Brain, heart, kidney, lungs, and liver - these vital organs are indeed vital for your survival. However, these…
avocado benefits
Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
dandelion health benefits
Dandelion: Little parachutes of health and wellness for your whole body Dandelions are not just bright looking blossoms that cheer your mind. These are powerpacked with essential nutrients that…
Magnesium depression
Citrate or Oxide: Which magnesium supplement is best for your body? Magnesium : Does your DNA require some repair works? Or bones and muscles need some strengthening? Look no…
Cordyceps: How the Caterpillar fungus works as a proven cancer-shield Strange as it may sound, but cordyceps or "caterpillar fungus", a fungus variety native to the Himalayas may…
BRAT Diet: What is the right way to follow this diarrhea-relieving diet? BRAT diet, a simple diet consisting of just bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast, can help you combat the…
How to correctly perform nasal irrigation using a Neti Pot? Neti pot has been a part of Ayurveda since centuries. This ancient tool is extremely effective in treating…
Muscle relaxers: Think twice before popping prescription drugs for muscle pain The market is brimming with OTC muscle relaxers. But these come with a host side-effects. Find out the…
Mood swings
The real reasons for your mood swings and how to overcome them Are you prone to heated moods frequently? Do you also feel bouts of depressive feeling creeping up on…
Essential oils: Choose the right one based on your need Essential oils can effectively treat the triggers causing migraines and address the root cause of migraines instead of…
V for Vagina: How well do you know this extraordinary part of the female anatomy? Vagina - a simple part of the human anatomy that has often created a feeling of either digust…
stress depressed anxiety
Are you depressed or just stressed? Know when to see a doctor Why are some people more anxious than others? Is being depressed the same as feeling sad? Have you…
back pain relief
Don’t choose pain: 10 truths about your back ache (and how to get relief) Back pain is one of the most common ailments in the world. Almost 80% of the entire global…