When your body recognizes a substance as an allergen, there is usually a localized reaction, such as sneezing and a runny nose or hives in one area of the body. However, if you have a severe allergic reaction, you may experience anaphylaxis, a form of shock that happens throughout the whole body.
How deadly are allergies?
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction, most often triggered by medicine, food, and insect stings. The groups with the deadliest responses to allergens are older adults and African-Americans.
What are the symptoms of an anaphylaxis?
Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can vary but are typically characterized by a combination of symptoms involving two or more different body systems, including:
- Skin: flushing, itching, hives
- Ears, Nose, Mouth & Throat: metallic taste, itching or tingling of the mouth, swelling of the tongue, lips, or throat
- Lungs: chest tightness, wheezing, shortness of breath
- GI: abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
- Cardiovascular: drop in blood pressure, dizziness, cardiac arrest
The video below explains anaphylaxis and the steps you should take when you identify the symptoms. Anaphylaxis must be treated immediately.
What do I do in case of anaphylaxis?
Epinephrine is used to stop the progression of anaphylaxis. Antihistamines are only recommended for the treatment of mild and moderate allergic reactions. Our physicians will prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector if you are diagnosed with a severe allergy.
The injection of epinephrine should be given in the outer thigh and can usually be used through clothing; check your device’s instructions for details. After an epinephrine auto-injector is used, always seek emergency medical attention, and bring the auto-injector with you to be disposed of. While a person’s symptoms may improve after administering the shot, an emergency medical professional still needs to examine them. The auto-injector generally contains one dose of epinephrine; if symptoms return, other emergency treatments may be required.
How can I understand if I’m at risk of anaphylaxis?
If you suffer from allergies and worry about a severe allergic reaction, contact the Allergy & Asthma Specialists team to discuss your allergy treatment options and emergency strategies. Our practice cares for patients with allergies and asthma in Lansdale, Collegeville, Pottstown, Jenkintown, Doylestown, King of Prussia, Blue Bell, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Call 1(800)86-COUGH, option 2 or book online to schedule an appointment.