What are Anaphylaxis Symptoms?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Anaphylaxis, also called anaphylactic shock, is a dangerous allergic reaction. Symptoms of anaphylaxis tend to hit victims quickly, within a few minutes of exposure to an allergen. People experiencing this condition need immediate medical care; untreated, anaphylaxis can sometimes cause death within a few minutes.

Anaphylaxis symptoms may include hives.
Anaphylaxis symptoms may include hives.

Understanding the symptoms of anaphylaxis is important to recognizing the condition. If the sick person is known to have severe allergies, he or she may carry an auto-injecting shot of epinephrine, which can help relieve the condition until further care is available. If severe allergy symptoms occur, first try to establish whether the person has this treatment on hand. Slowing the symptoms is key to preventing serious complications.

An allergic reaction to nuts can be severe.
An allergic reaction to nuts can be severe.

Anaphylaxis symptoms are often quickly apparent on the skin. Swelling, redness, or paleness can all be signs of a severe allergic reaction. Patients may feel itchy and break out in hives. If the reaction has occurred because of an insect sting, the area around the sting may become puffy and swollen almost immediately.

Allergic people often experience anaphylaxis symptoms after accidentally ingesting an allergen, such as peanuts. This can be very dangerous, as one of the primary reactions can be a severe narrowing of airways and breathing passages. If a person begins to have trouble breathing or swallowing, or feels a lump in his or her throat, he or she may be having anaphylaxis symptoms. Swelling in the tongue and throat can also be warning signs of this condition.

The physiological process of anaphylaxis symptoms on the immune system can quickly send the body into true shock. Blood pressure may drop rapidly, and patients may experience nausea and dizziness. This can quickly proceed to fainting spells or panic attack symptoms. Weakness may flood the body, causing limited mobility.

People who are known to have suffered anaphylaxis in the past are believed to be more likely to experience it again. Those with a history of allergies and asthma, or a family history of severe allergic reactions, are also considered to be at a high risk. Since allergic reactions tend to worsen with repeated exposure, some people may experience anaphylactic shock after exposure to an allergen that previously only caused minor irritation. Bee stings, nuts, and latex are all considered common allergens that may provoke this severe reaction.

The arrival of anaphylaxis symptoms is often quick and overwhelming. In response to the allergen, the immune system floods the body with chemicals to try to ward off a perceived attack. In the panic to fight off invaders, the body can accidentally cause serious problems, including cutting off air passageways or even stopping the heart. Medical treatment must be found as quickly as possible in order to prevent complications.

Breathing issues are a dangerous symptom of anaphylaxis.
Breathing issues are a dangerous symptom of anaphylaxis.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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