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.

View 10 Common Allergy Triggers

Quick Guide10 Common Allergy Causes

10 Common Allergy Causes

What are anaphylaxis symptoms and signs?

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 15-30 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

Some 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 6/24/2015

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Allergy and Asthma Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Anaphylaxis - Describe Your Experience

    Please describe your experience with anaphylaxis.

    Post View 36 Comments
  • Anaphylaxis - Symptoms and Signs

    What symptoms and signs did you experience with anaphylaxis?

    Post View 20 Comments
  • Anaphylaxis - Possible Causes

    Do you know what caused your case of anaphylaxis? Please share your experience.

    Post View 5 Comments
  • Anaphylaxis - Diagnosis

    Discuss the events that led to a diagnosis of anaphylaxis. Did you end up in the ER?

    Post View 5 Comments
  • Anaphylaxis - Prevention

    If you've experienced anaphylaxis, how do you prevent another occurrence? Do you have an EpiPen?

    Post View 2 Comments
  • Anaphylaxis - Treatment

    What kind of treatment did you get for anaphylaxis?

    Post

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors