Anaphylaxis (cont.)

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What are the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction that affects multiple areas of the body.

  • The severity of the reaction varies from person to person.
  • Subsequent reactions to the same trigger are typically similar in nature.
  • The more rapid the onset of symptoms, the more severe the reaction is likely to be.
  • A history of allergic disease (rhinitis, eczema, asthma) does not increase the risk of developing IgE mediated anaphylaxis, but it does incline the person to a non-IgE-mediated reaction.
  • Underlying asthma may result in a more severe reaction and can be more difficult to treat.

The symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction may occur within seconds of exposure or be delayed 15 to 30 minutes, or even an hour or more after exposure (typical of reactions to aspirin and similar drugs). Early symptoms are often related to the skin and include

  • flushing (warmth and redness of the skin),
  • itching (often in the groin or armpits),
  • hives.

These symptoms are often accompanied by

  • a feeling of "impending doom,"
  • anxiety,
  • sometimes a rapid, irregular pulse.

Frequently following the above symptoms, throat and tongue swelling results in hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and difficulty breathing.

Symptoms of rhinitis (hay fever) or asthma may occur, causing

About 25% of the time, the mediators flooding the bloodstream cause a generalized opening of capillaries (tiny blood vessels) which results in

These are the typical features of anaphylactic shock.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/22/2013

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