(Anaphylactic Reaction; Severe Allergic Reaction)
by Editorial Staff and Contributors
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic response. It can be life threatening.
It is important to seek emergency medical care right away if you have symptoms.
Some people become very sensitive to certain allergens or triggers. When they come in contact with it the immune system has a severe overreaction. This leads to the symptoms of anaphylaxis. Common triggers include:
Factors that may increase your risk of anaphylaxis include:
Symptoms often occur within minutes after contact with an allergen. Some may not show until hours later. They may be mild or severe enough to cause death. Symptoms may include:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. All of this information will be used to reach a diagnosis.
Anaphylaxis will need immediate medical treatment, including:
Severe anaphylaxis may require:
Once you have had a reaction you have a higher risk of having another. Your doctor may give you a tool that allows you to easily inject epinephrine. It will slow or stop reaction from an allergen. You can keep it with you at all times. Be sure family and friends know how to use the tool too. Make sure the epinephrine has not expired.
Make sure the school nurse and teachers know about any allergies your child has. If your child has self-injectable epinephrine, make sure school staff knows how to use it and understand when it is needed.
Note : If you use your tool, you should go to the emergency room right away. Your symptoms can come back quickly even if they appear to have gone away.
Work with your doctor to find what caused your reaction. You may be referred to an Allergist for testing.
Once you know the cause, you can take steps to avoid contact with it. Avoiding triggers is the best prevention. Additional steps include:
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
FARE—Food Allergy Research & Education
Allergy Asthma Information Association
Calgary Allergy Network
Anaphylaxis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113858/Anaphylaxis . Updated August 22, 2017. Accessed October 2, 2017.
Anaphylaxis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:
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Updated June 2016. Accessed October 2, 2017.
Arnold JJ, Willimas PM. Anaphylaxis: recognition and management. Am Fam Physician. 2011;84(10):1111-1118.
Sampson, HA, Munoz-Furlong, A, Campbell, et al. Second symposium on the definition and management of anaphylaxis: summary report—Second National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease/Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network symposium. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2006;117(2):391-397.
Simons E. Anaphylaxis. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2010;125(2 Suppl 2): S161-S181.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 4/24/2018
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