Anaphylaxis

AnaphylaxisAnaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death.
This can be graded into mild, moderate, or severe according to system/s involved.
The most common causes include foods, insect stings and drugs.
Signs of anaphylaxis usually start within few minutes of coming in contact with the allergen. However, sometimes symptoms can begin after few hour.
An anaphylaxis is always considered an emergency. It is important to know when anaphylaxis is happening, how to treat it and how to stop it from happening again.

Q: How can i know if i have anaphylaxis?
A: Individuals developing anaphylaxis have some or most of these symptoms:

  • A red, itchy rash
  • A hoarse voice (or change in voice)
  • Wheezing (whistling sound while breathing)
  • Chest tightness (or difficulty taking full breath)
  • Dizziness (or Passing out)
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping
This is a serious medical condition, and if it happen to yourself or someone with you, you must call an ambulance immediately

Q: How common is anaphylaxis?
A: Estimates of the incidence range from 10 to 20/100,000 population per year. You should know that many cases of anaphylaxis goes unnoticed because they are under-diagnosed. It has been estimated that up to 15% of the population is at risk for anaphylaxis.

Q: What is the treatment of anaphylaxis?
A: Anaphylaxis treatment needs a precise and thorough plan including:

  1. Avoidance of the suspected allergen. For example:
    • If you have food allergies, avoid those foods (Please see the section on food allergy)
    • If you are allergic to latex, do not use natural rubber latex products, such as gloves or balloons.
    • If you have severe insect allergy, avoid spending time outside during insect (in certain instances, immunotherapy (allergy shots) should given to lower the incidence of future reaction).
  2. Always carry an injectable epinephrine kit to be administered in emergency situation (ask your doctor about the proper way to administer it).
  3. A good idea would be to carry a bracelet or card indicating your medical condition.
An allergist is the most qualified person for you to see and make such plan.