Anaphylaxis is a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction that affects a number of different body systems. Anaphylaxis is most often caused by food allergy especially peanuts and tree nuts. Other causes of anaphylaxis include insect stings, latex and certain medications such as penicillin.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis can vary in severity. Sometimes, the symptoms are not life-threatening, but in some people it can be extreme and lead to death. Anaphylaxis symptoms usually occur rapidly and may include the following:
Your allergist will ask for a detailed medical history to identify the specific allergen that caused anaphylaxis. You may be tested for allergies with skin tests or blood tests to identify and confirm allergy triggers so that you can take steps to prevent future reactions.
An anaphylactic reaction can occur as:
If you or someone around you have an allergic reaction that might be anaphylaxis, call 911 for emergency medical services and seek immediate medical attention. An epinephrine auto-injector may be used if available to inject the medication into the thigh muscle. After injecting epinephrine you are positioned in a reclining position with the feet raised to help restore normal circulation. Your healthcare provider also may give secondary treatments with medications such as corticosteroids and antihistamines, supplemental oxygen therapy, and intravenous fluids.
As anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction, if you experience these symptoms you should see a doctor who specializes in allergies and immunology.