Understanding Anaphylaxis

face with bee landed on the nose

Understanding & Preventing Anaphylaxis

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction to an allergen. There are many causes of anaphylaxis. Some people know about their allergies. Others aren’t aware until the first reaction. Luckily, most people can prevent a fatal attack with a single medication.

What is Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction that can be deadly if not treated immediately. It happens when an allergen produces an overreaction by the immune system. The body releases too many chemicals, leading to a full-body reaction.

Some people are more likely to experience anaphylaxis. Anyone with a history of severe allergic responses or asthma is at a higher risk. Additionally, if you’ve already had an anaphylactic reaction, the chances of having another increase.

The Signs of Anaphylaxis

The symptoms vary by the cause. But the most common start within 5 to 30 minutes of encountering the allergen. Typical adverse responses include,

  • Chest tightness
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiousness
  • Hives
  • Red skin
  • Palpitations
  • Dizziness

Life-threatening symptoms that require immediate medical intention are

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Uncontrollable cough
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swelling of the face, eyes, or tongue
  • Unconsciousness

If you or someone nearby is are experiencing anaphylaxis, dial 911 or get to a medical provider fast. This situation is life-threatening and needs immediate help.

Anaphylaxis Causes

Although there’s a long list of potential causes, some are more common than others. The most typical include,

  • Peanut products
  • Bees
  • Fire ants
  • Fish/shellfish
  • Latex
  • Medications
  • Antibiotics

Treating Anaphylaxis

People who have a severe allergy are often prescribed an epinephrine injection by their physician to carry with them at all times. In the event of a reaction, use the auto-injector (EpiPen). Because you may be unconscious, it’s best to have someone in your home that knows how to use epinephrine. After using the injector, call 9/11 to have a full evaluation at the emergency room to prevent complications. Always follow-up with your primary care or allergist, too.

Failure to administer the medicine quickly can result in blocked airways, cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, and shock.

Keeping People with Life-Threatening Allergies Safe

Anaphylaxis is scary. But if you know you have a life-threatening allergy. Always carry an auto-injector. Instruct loved ones how to use it in the event of a reaction. Consider getting an engraved medical ID bracelet. Also, avoid triggers. For example, if you have a bee allergy, wear shoes on grass, avoid bright colors outdoors, and skip perfumes and scented beauty products that attract them.

Anyone allergic to peanuts needs to advertise their allergy to friends and family members. With enough training, friends and family will tell you right away if they’ve made any foods with peanut products.

Purchase a medical ID bracelet to alert anyone around you and first responders of your anaphylaxis. This information readily available can save your life. Someone nearby or a medical professional can use an epinephrine injection (EpiPen) to stop the reaction. Choose a Universal Medical Data engraved medical ID bracelet and add an extra layer of security to your life or the life of a loved one.