Anaphylaxis - Allergies in Overdrive
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction that affects two or more parts of the body at once, including the skin, mouth, gastrointestinal tract, lungs or heart, which may occur suddenly and may lead to death if not promptly treated. Anaphylaxis is often caused by exposure to:
- Foods, especially peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, cow’s milk or eggs.
- Stinging insects such as, bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets or fire ants.
- Medications, especially antibiotics, aspirin and NSAIDs.
- Latex exposure in various settings- occupational, diagnostic procedures, recreational or household.
- Exercising and Food in Combination Anaphylaxis: Occur when a susceptible person exercises soon after eating certain foods such as celery and wheat.
- Idiopathic (due to unknown cause) Anaphylaxis.
Signs and Symptoms of Anaphylaxis
- Skin: itching, hives, redness and swelling.
- Nose: sneezing, stuffy nose, runny nose.
- Mouth: itching, swelling of the lips and tongue.
- Throat: itching, tightness, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing.
- Chest: shortness of breath, cough, wheeze, tightness, pain.
- Heart: weak pulse, passing out, drop in blood pressure.
- GI track: vomiting, diarrhea, cramps.
- Nervous system: dizziness, fainting.
Treatment of Anaphylaxis
While waiting for help, promptly administer of epinephrine auto injector, repeat the dose in 5 to 10 minutes, if needed and call 911. Benadryl, Zantac and corticosteroid, oral or injectable, are other medications useful to treat anaphylaxis. To treat shock, IV fluids may be necessary.