Anaphylaxis

ANAPHYLAXIS reaction

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview

An allergy is an immune response that your body creates when exposed to certain substances called allergens. Different people are allergic to different kinds of substances or triggers. Some common allergens are airborne pollen, certain foods or even certain chemicals contained in common medication drugs. Allergens are substances that are otherwise harmless but that are capable of triggering reactions in the bodies of individuals who are allergic to them since these bodies identify them as threats. Hence the immune response.

Depending on the allergen involved, the symptoms of an allergic reaction can vary. When you have an allergic reaction, you could develop a runny nose, a skin rash or even a sense of discomfort in your abdominal area. The most severe form of allergic reaction is known as anaphylaxis and it can be life-threatening because it is acute and systemic, involving multiple organs.

What Is Anaphylaxis?

ANAPHYLAXIS food allergySometimes, when a person comes into contact with a substance that they are allergic to, their body can produce a disproportionately severe reaction instead of a normal allergic reaction. This potentially life-threatening condition is known as anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock.

Generally, an allergic reaction remains localized. Anaphylaxis, on the other hand, involves the entire body, even affecting the respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms. Emergency response can make the difference between life and death.

How Does Anaphylaxis Occur?

The first time your body is exposed to a certain allergen, your immune system learns to recognize the antigens or identifying features of the offending substance. Your immune system produces substances called antibodies (immunoglobulins) that then circulate in your bloodstream. The next time you are exposed to the same allergen, your antibodies react quickly and disarm the antigen by binding onto it. When antibodies of a type called immunoglobulin gamma E (IgE) identify the antigen and then cause mast cells to release inflammatory chemicals, this gives rise to an allergic reaction.

Typically, anaphylaxis occurs upon re-exposure to an allergen that the body has already encountered earlier and developed specific antibodies for. Hence, anaphylaxis involves an IgE-mediated response. The difference is that in this case, the reaction is much more severe and involves the entire body instead of remaining localized. The release of inflammatory substances such as histamines causes a series of changes within the body. Blood vessels become dilated, leading to flushing and heating of the skin. The airways become constricted, which makes breathing difficult. Blood vessels become more permeable, leading to lowering of blood pressure. The heart attempts to compensate for this by beating faster, resulting in elevated heart rate and even palpitations. The resultant lack of oxygen can cause organs to fail and patient to lose consciousness. This is the underlying mechanism of an anaphylactic reaction.

What Causes This?

ANAPHYLAXIS reactionThe potential triggers for anaphylaxis are as numerous and varied as the allergens that different people are allergic to. In instances where the trigger is not identified, the condition is referred to as ‘idiopathic’ in nature. To give a few examples of the many known triggers:

  • Dust mites.
  • Animal hair.
  • Pollen.
  • Insect Stings.
  • Foods such as nuts or shellfish.
  • Drugs such as penicillin, aspirin and certain anesthetics.
  • Materials such as latex.
  • Exercise.

Certain individuals are at a higher risk of suffering an anaphylactic reaction. Some known risk factors are listed below:

  • Having allergies.
  • Having a condition known as atopic dermatitis.
  • Those who have already experienced an episode of anaphylaxis once are more likely to experience it again.
  • Having asthma is also associated with a higher risk of developing anaphylaxis.

How Do I Recognise A Case Of Anaphylaxis?

Initial symptoms may appear no different from those of a typical allergic reaction. As more severe signs begin to present themselves, action should be taken immediately to address the condition. The list below covers some typical identifying features and symptoms:

  • Feeling of anxiety.
  • Nasal congestion.
  • Watering eyes.
  • Severe headache.
  • Coughing.
  • Sneezing.
  • Wheezing.
  • A sensation of tightness in the chest.
  • Difficulty in breathing and swallowing.
  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, and throat.
  • Itchy, red skin or rashes.
  • Vomiting.
  • Abdominal pain or cramps.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Lowering blood pressure. As a result, the pulse becomes weak.
  • Elevated heart rate.
  • Dizziness.
  • Slurring of speech.
  • Seizures.
  • Loss of consciousness.

What Are The Possible Complications?

Despite medical treatment, some patients tend to suffer a second attack merely hours after the first. This is known as biphasic anaphylaxis and the second attack could even be more severe than the first. This is believed to occur more often in instances where patients have actually ingested allergens such as those in food rather than merely touching or inhaling them. Once the symptoms of the initial attack have abated, it is necessary to keep the patient under observation so that a prompt response is available in the instance of a second such attack.

In cases where an adequate medical response is not able to reach the patient on time, he or she could die as a result of anaphylactic shock. He or she may stop breathing altogether. Alternatively, the heart could stop beating. As soon as this happens, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) should be performed, if possible.

How Is Anaphylactic Shock Diagnosed?

The patient themselves may recognize the allergic reaction and identify the allergen in their food or environment. Observers may notice typical signs of allergy rapidly escalating into far more severe symptoms such as difficulty in breathing, heart palpitations and lowering of the pulse. The face, lips, and tongue may swell up noticeably. All of these signs are fairly good indicators of anaphylaxis. Since this is a medical emergency, there is usually not enough time for formal diagnostic tests. If trained medical professionals are present, they will be able to better recognize the symptoms and act accordingly. However, if possible, IgE blood tests can help to confirm inflammation and anaphylaxis.

How Should It Be Treated?

ANAPHYLAXIS treatmentIn case of an anaphylactic attack, a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is given if the patient has breathing problems or the pulse starts weakening. Oxygen is given in order to help in breathing.

Epinephrine or adrenaline is administered to trim down the body’s allergic response. Antihistamines and cortisone can be administered intravenously in order to improve breathing and reduce the inflammation of the air passages. The breathing problems can be controlled by means of a beta-agonist drug such as albuterol.

In case of an emergency –emergency medical attention is required; the epinephrine auto-injector is pressed into the individual’s thigh, the affected person is made to lie flat on the floor with legs elevated. First-aid and CPR are administered if required. The pulse and breathing are closely monitored throughout.

The epinephrine auto-injector has a syringe and a concealed needle. It delivers a single dose of epinephrine when pressed against the thigh. In emergency situations, it may be a life-saver by preventing the condition from worsening.

A series of allergy shots might be required in cases where the anaphylactic reaction is triggered by an insect sting or bite. The allergy shots can diminish the heightened response of the body to allergies and keep you from a severe reaction in the future.

Prevention of the anaphylactic reaction is mainly by avoiding the triggers such as insect stings, food allergens, certain medications, latex etc. and carrying a self-administered epinephrine- auto-injector.

Facts

  • Anaphylaxis is considered to be the most severe form of allergic reaction as it might involve several systems of the body.

Facts

  • It is estimated that around 600,000 individuals in Canada are at risk of getting anaphylaxis owing to allergies to certain foodstuffs and insect stings.
  • There are no contraindications for using the epinephrine auto-injector in case of an emergency. Thus, in doubtful cases, one should not hesitate in using it.

Facts

  • Certain drug interactions such as statins and grapefruit, ginkgo and blood thinners etc. might also trigger allergic responses.

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Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • Identify and avoid foodstuffs that might trigger an allergic reaction for you such as peanuts, milk, tree nuts, egg, soy, wheat etc.
  • Seek emergency medical attention in case you observe symptoms such as severe itching, hives, weak pulse, dizziness, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, wheezing, vomiting, diarrhea etc.
  • Make sure you learn how to use the correct way of using the epinephrine auto-injector. Your family members and friends should also know the method to use it.
Don'ts
  • Forget to replace the epinephrine in the auto-injector before the drug expires.
  • Panic in case of an anaphylactic attack. Keep the epinephrine auto-injector handy all the time so that administration is easy and fast in difficult situations.

 

 

 

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Power up your gut: 8 proven steps on how to improve your digestion Did you know you have a colony of bacteria in your gut that help you in digesting food?…
nutritional yeast bread
Nutritional Yeast : How can a fungi culture be good for your body? Nutritional yeast: How a simple culture of fungi can transform your skin, digestion, immunity , and much more.…
EEG
Electroencephalogram – EEG EEG or electroencephalogram is a diagnostic tool used to access the functioning of neurons and brain activity to…
LFT-test
Liver Function Test – LFT LFT or Liver Function Test is a blood test used to determine the levels of hepatic enzymes which…
CEA_test
Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) test CEA or carcinoembryonic test detects the presence of CEA antigen in your blood mainly & determines the effectiveness…
Rubella IgM test
Rubella IgM Test The Rubella IgM test is a blood test that is performed to diagnose the presence of the rubella…
free psa test
Free PSA Test The free PSA test is used to detect the level or percentage of free PSA in the body…
Hepatitis A virus infected liver
Hepatitis A Virus (HAV) Total Blood test to look for IgM antibodies to know if you are infected with Hepatitis A virus (HAV),…
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…
lose weight fast
12 easy and instant steps to successful weight loss Do you want to lose weight without losing your mind? Does weight loss always mean saying goodbye to…
sleep deprivation
Don’t let your sleep deficit grow into memory loss or heart attack Why is sleep important for us? How could sleep deprivation harm you? We bet you didn't know about…
Jack in the box fast food
Jack In the Box : The perils of surging fast food culture in the USA Jack in the Box - How a culture of fast-food can clog your arteries, weaken your heart, fatten…
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…
Cottage cheese: What can you find in this healthy chunk of fresh milk cheese? Love cheese but scared of putting on extra pounds? With cottage cheese, you can get the best of…
Find all the instant ways to get rid of blackheads Blackheads - Not only are they aesthetically unappealing but if left untreated these can cause bacterial overgrowth on…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
Inversion Therapy: The anti-gravity way of healing chronic back pain Inversion therapy involves suspending a person upside dow using different types of equipment. This works by taking the…
The Cabbage Soup Diet: The healthiest way to instant weight loss Cabbage soup diet rapid weight loss diet for those who want to shed those extra pounds in less…
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…
11 unbelievable health benefits of thyme you didn’t know! Thyme is a herb that has been used in alternative medicine.It is a well known seasoning in the…
liver cleanse detox
14 go-to foods that are best for a complete natural liver detox Liver cleanse can be achieved by just choosing or avoiding certain types of food. Liver itself is a detoxifying…
reflexology massage
Top reasons why you should go for a reflexology massage today Reflexology involves the application of pressure to your feet and hands to encourage self-healing. Could this be beneficial…
phenytoin test
Phenytoin test Phenytoin is a drug that is administered mainly to epilepsy patients. The phenytoin blood test measures the level…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Optavia diet
The features of an Optavia diet The Optavia diet endorses pre-packaged meals and snacks called "fuelings" that are tasty, low in calorie, and incorporates…