Anaphylaxis (Severe Allergic Reaction)

  • Medical Author:
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

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Anaphylaxis & Bee Sting Treatment

When bees or wasps sting a person, they inject venom through their stinger into the skin of the victim. About 3% of people stung by bees and wasps have an allergic reaction to the sting, and up to 0.8% of bee sting victims experience the severe and life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis.

Quick Guide10 Common Allergy Causes

10 Common Allergy Causes

Anaphylaxis facts

  • Anaphylaxis is the most severe allergic reaction and is potentially life threatening.
  • Anaphylaxis is rare. The vast majority of people will never have an anaphylactic reaction.
  • The most common causes of anaphylaxis include drugs, such as penicillin, insect stings, foods (peanuts, shellfish), X-ray dye, and latex.
  • The symptoms of anaphylaxis may vary and can include hives, tongue swelling, vomiting, and even shock.
  • If someone is at risk, avoidance is the best form of treatment.
  • If one has a history of serious allergic reaction, he or she should always carry an epinephrine kit.

What is anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis refers to a rapidly developing and serious allergic reaction that affects a number of different body systems at one time. Severe anaphylactic reactions can be fatal. Although many patients experience minor allergy symptoms, a small number of people are susceptible to a severe reaction that can lead to shock or even death.

Anaphylaxis is often triggered by substances that are injected or ingested and thereby gain access into the bloodstream. An explosive reaction involving the skin, lungs, nose, throat, and gastrointestinal tract can then result. Although severe cases of anaphylaxis can occur within seconds or minutes of exposure and be fatal if untreated, many reactions are milder and can be ended with prompt medical therapy.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/24/2015

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