(HealthyResearch.com) – An estimated 50 million people in the United States suffer from allergies. Allergic reactions can be mild or annoying, like sneezing and itchy hives.
Anaphylaxis, on the other hand, involves the entire body and may be life-threatening. By understanding the causes and signs of anaphylaxis, you will become more aware of what to look for and how to respond.
Causes of Anaphylaxis
Anaphylaxis occurs when the entire body has a strong reaction to a substance that is an allergen. In some cases of anaphylaxis, people have previously been exposed to the substance, such as shellfish or an insect bite. The immune system becomes so sensitized that repeated exposure to the allergen may result in anaphylaxis.
There are three common causes of anaphylaxis: Allergies to certain insect bites or stings, such as bee venom; allergies to a specific food, such as peanuts or shellfish, and allergies to certain drugs, such as CT contrast dye or aspirin.
You may have a higher risk of experiencing an episode of anaphylaxis if you have had some type of allergic experience in the past. However, in the case of medication, a reaction that resembles anaphylaxis may occur after taking it for the first time.
7 Common Signs of Anaphylaxis
The signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis occur when an allergy has an effect on two or more parts of the body. Anaphylaxis may progress quickly after you come in contact with an allergen, such as food, an insect, or a medication.
At first, only one allergic reaction may occur, such as itching, blotchy skin, breathing difficulties, or wheezing. The symptoms then progress to other parts of the body. Certain areas of the body are more commonly affected as the signs of anaphylaxis increase.
Here are 7 common signs of anaphylaxis:
- Your skin may itch and become flushed. Other signs of anaphylaxis that affect the skin include hives and swelling beneath the skin, which is known as angioedema.
- Your eyes may become irritated. Signs of anaphylaxis affecting your eyes include redness, excess tears, itchy eyes, and swollen skin around your eyes.
- Your upper and lower respiratory systems may be affected. This can include sneezing, a runny nose, swelling throat, problems breathing, and tightness in your chest.
- You may experience oral symptoms. This can include swelling in your tongue or lips or weird tastes.
- Your circulatory system might be affected. Anaphylaxis might cause you to feel faint or dizzy. It might cause changes to your heart rate or low blood pressure.
- Your nervous system may exhibit signs of anaphylaxis. These symptoms include slurred speech or feeling confused or anxious.
- You may experience digestive troubles. Anaphylaxis might cause stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea.
What to Do If You Experience Anaphylaxis
Call 911 if you or someone near you shows symptoms of anaphylaxis. Even if you are experiencing what you think might be more mild signs of anaphylaxis, notify your doctor. Your physician can help you understand what may have caused your severe allergic reaction and offer treatment.
Prevent Anaphylaxis From Reoccurring
Once you have experienced anaphylaxis, update all your health care providers so that your experience can be added to your medical history. Awareness of your allergies after experiencing anaphylaxis can help you prevent future occurrences.
If the episode was caused by a food, check ingredient lists carefully and call restaurants ahead of time to make sure you can order a menu item without that food. Double-check with the cook before eating homemade food or baked goods.
If your anaphylaxis episode was caused by an insect bite or sting, keep insect repellent at hand when you go outdoors. Choose clothing designed to protect you from insects before hiking.
To protect yourself if your anaphylaxis episode resulted from a medication, alert your doctor and pharmacist to add it to your drug chart. Take time to read over-the-counter medication information on packaging.
Having a medical alert keychain or bracelet with information about allergens might provide guidance for those around you if an episode occurs again. Your physician may want you to have an emergency anaphylaxis kit available to ease future reactions. The kit might include an epinephrine injector (EpiPen) or antihistamine.
By learning the signs of anaphylaxis, you can respond promptly if an allergic reaction expands to two or more parts of your body. In addition, keeping your health care providers, including your pharmacist, updated on your medical history with regard to allergic reactions can help them respond promptly if symptoms of anaphylaxis occur again.
~Here’s to Your Health & Safety!
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