Anaphylactic shock is extremely serious. It can block your airways and prevent you from breathing. It can also stop your heart. This is due to the decrease in blood pressure that prevents the heart from receiving enough oxygen. This is especially true for conditions of the respiratory system. For example, if you have COPD , you may experience a lack of oxygen that can quickly do irreversible damage to the lungs.

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Print Overview Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction. Anaphylaxis causes your immune system to release a flood of chemicals that can cause you to go into shock — your blood pressure drops suddenly and your airways narrow, blocking breathing. Signs and symptoms include a rapid, weak pulse; a skin rash; and nausea and vomiting. Common triggers include certain foods, some medications, insect venom and latex.

Anaphylaxis requires an injection of epinephrine and a follow-up trip to an emergency room. Symptoms Anaphylaxis symptoms usually occur within minutes of exposure to an allergen. Sometimes, however, it can occur a half-hour or longer after exposure.

If the person having the attack carries an epinephrine autoinjector, administer it right away. This second reaction is called biphasic anaphylaxis. Make an appointment to see your doctor if you or your child has had a severe allergy attack or signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis in the past. Request an Appointment at Mayo Clinic Causes Your immune system produces antibodies that defend against foreign substances.

This is good when a foreign substance is harmful, such as certain bacteria or viruses. The most common anaphylaxis triggers in children are food allergies, such as to peanuts, and tree nuts, fish, shellfish and milk.

Besides allergy to peanuts, nuts, fish and shellfish, anaphylaxis triggers in adults include: Certain medications, including antibiotics, aspirin and other over-the-counter pain relievers, and the intravenous IV contrast used in some imaging tests Stings from bees, yellow jackets, wasps, hornets and fire ants Latex Although not common, some people develop anaphylaxis from aerobic exercise, such as jogging, or even less intense physical activity, such as walking.

Eating certain foods before exercise or exercising when the weather is hot, cold or humid also has been linked to anaphylaxis in some people. Talk with your doctor about precautions to take when exercising. In some cases, the cause of anaphylaxis is never identified idiopathic anaphylaxis. Future reactions might be more severe than the first reaction. Allergies or asthma. People who have either condition are at increased risk of having anaphylaxis. Certain other conditions.

These include heart disease and an abnormal accumulation of a certain type of white blood cell mastocytosis. Complications An anaphylactic reaction can be life-threatening — it can stop your breathing or your heartbeat. Prevention The best way to prevent anaphylaxis is to avoid substances that cause this severe reaction. Also: Wear a medical alert necklace or bracelet to indicate you have an allergy to specific drugs or other substances.

Keep an emergency kit with prescribed medications available at all times. Your doctor can advise you on the contents. If you have an epinephrine autoinjector, check the expiration date and be sure to refill your prescription before it expires.

Stay calm when near a stinging insect. Move away slowly and avoid slapping at the insect. If you have food allergies, carefully read the labels of all the foods you buy and eat. When eating out, ask how each dish is prepared, and find out what ingredients it contains.

Fortunately, you can respond quickly and effectively to an allergy emergency by knowing the signs and symptoms of an anaphylactic reaction and having a plan to quickly treat those symptoms.


Anaphylactic Shock: What You Need to Know



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