According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, there are more than 24 million people in the U.S., including more than 6 million children are affected by asthma and allergic diseases. People with allergies develop mild to moderate symptoms such as runny nose or rash. However, in some cases, exposure to allergens can cause a dangerous and life-threatening reaction. And this severe reaction is called anaphylaxis.
When you are allergic to a specific substance, your immune system overreacts to this allergen. It might identify that substance as harmful to the body and that is why the immune system attacks it. By doing so, the immune system releases chemicals that cause allergy symptoms. Some allergy symptoms are mild however, there are unfortunate people who experience severe allergic reactions.
Anaphylaxis is a severe or life-threatening reaction which occurs when you are exposed to an allergen. The symptoms of anaphylaxis can occur very quickly as fast as within a couple of minutes of exposure to the allergen.
There are certain people who are more at risk of anaphylaxis. If you have asthma or if you have a family member who had a history of anaphylaxis, then your risk is higher. Furthermore, if you already experienced having anaphylaxis, then the risk of having another anaphylactic reaction is increased.
Our immune system produces antibodies that defend against foreign substances. And when our immune system is exposed to these substances, it triggers an allergic reaction that might lead to anaphylaxis. Some of its common causes include:
Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis usually occur within minutes after you get exposed to an allergen. The early symptoms may be mild which will manifest through having a runny nose or skin rash. However, it can progress quickly. These symptoms can quickly lead to more serious problems that include:
As I’ve mentioned earlier, if you have a history of allergies or asthma and already had a severe reaction, then you are at greater risk for anaphylaxis. You can visit an allergist since they are the ones who are trained to review your history of allergic reactions and conduct diagnostic tests to help you determine what triggers your allergies and to help you review your treatment options. If you’ve yet to know what triggers them, you can ask your allergist to undergo allergy tests such as:
It is important to be prepared for anaphylaxis. You need to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis so you can be able to treat it. When you’re having an anaphylactic reaction, you shouldn’t take an antihistamine. For a severe allergic reaction, you may need an emergency injection of epinephrine or a trip to the emergency room.
People who are prone to having severe allergic reactions always carry with them an epinephrine auto-injector, which is a medical device designed to deliver a dose of a particular drug. Epinephrine can reverse the symptoms within minutes. You can ask your doctor on how to use it. If you still have trouble breathing, then you may need a second shot within half an hour.
Anaphylaxis can be dangerous especially if you can’t immediately recognize its signs and symptoms. If you’ve already experienced anaphylaxis, then you should consult an allergist and seek treatment. You can schedule a meeting with Dr. Paul Jantzi, an allergist in College Station. He has spent more than 13 years serving the south-central Texas region as an allergist. He will provide you with professional services with respect to your allergies, asthma, and immune system. Contact Dr. Jantzi and have yourself checked.
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
Kids with Food Allergies
American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology