What is Anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis is not a common condition and people of all age groups can be affected by it. A proper knowledge of the anaphylaxis symptoms and the treatment methods can go a long way towards ensuring right help at the right time.

The immune system releases antibodies that protect the body against foreign elements. This is helpful when the foreign substance is harmful. However, in some case the immune system overreacts to substances that are not harmful. This starts a chemical chain reaction, which in turn leads to allergy symptoms. While these symptoms are not life threatening, in some people, it can start a reaction that can cause anaphylaxis symptoms. Also, if someone has had even a mild anaphylactic reaction in the past, there is a risk of more severe anaphylaxis in the future.

Anaphylaxis symptoms typically occur within a few moments of exposure to an allergen. In certain cases, however, it can happen after half-hour or longer after the exposure. Some of the symptoms of the condition include:

• Skin reactions such as hives along with itching
• Pale or flushed skin
• Warm feeling
• Lump in the throat
• Constricted airways
• Swollen tongue or throat
• Wheezing and labored breathing
• Rapid and weak pulse
• Vomiting, nausea or diarrhea
• Dizziness or fainting

If you or your children are suffering from any of the anaphylaxis symptoms, consult a doctor right away.

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Some of the common triggers of the condition include:
• Medications such as penicillin
• Foods such as peanuts, cashews, walnuts, pecans, almonds, fish, milk, shellfish, wheat and eggs
• Insect stings from yellow jackets, fire ants, bees, hornets, wasps

Some less common causes of the condition are:
• Medications that are used during anesthesia
• Exercise
• Latex

Anaphylaxis that happens due to exercise is uncommon and differs from one person to another. In some people, aerobic activities such as jogging, brisk walking can trigger the condition. In some, less intense physical activities including walking can begin a reaction. Eating certain types of foods before exercising or exercising when the weather is humid, hot or cold can also start an anaphylaxis. You can consult your doctor to know about the precautions that you must take to prevent this while you are exercising.

If you are unaware of what triggers your allergy, your doctor may conduct some tests to find out the allergen. Also in some cases the cause of the condition is never found out. This is known as idiopathic anaphylaxis.

Risk factors
While there are not many known risk factors, certain things that may increase the risk of the condition are:

Personal history of anaphylaxis
If you have had the condition in the past, your risk of getting it again increases. In fact, future occurrences may be more severe than the first one.

Asthma or allergies
People who suffer from either of the condition have a greater risk of anaphylaxis.

If there are family members who suffer from anaphylaxis due to exercises, the risk of you developing it is higher than someone who does not have anyone in the family suffering from it.

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During an attack, the medical team may perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) if your heart stops beating. Some medications that may be administered to you including:

• Epinephrine
• Oxygen
• A beta-agonist
• Intravenous (IV) antihistamines and cortisone

Anaphylaxis should always be considered a medical emergency and treated as soon as possible. If you know what triggers your anaphylaxis, it is essential to take steps to stay away from the triggers. A specialist allergy doctor will be able to help you identify the triggers and avoid the same in future.

Anaphylaxis is not a common condition and people of all age groups can be affected by it. People who suffer from other allergic conditions such as asthma or atopic eczema have a higher risk of developing the condition. Though it is life threatening, there are very few deaths due to this. With proper anaphylaxis treatment and care, most people are able to recover fully from the condition.

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