As we move further into the 21st Century, there is no doubt that allergies are more prominent than ever before. Whether it has something to do with the actual food we’re eating, the environment itself, or if it’s simply because technology is better now than ever before to diagnose allergies – we don’t really know. But one of the most dangerous aspects of any allergy is Anaphylaxis and regardless of if you have an allergy yourself, or someone in your family or circle of friends has one – it’s important you know everything you can about it. It could save a life.
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that requires a trigger. This is a potentially lethal or amplified form of a simple allergic attack. The scary thing about it is anyone with allergies is vulnerable to this severe reaction. There are several cases of death due to anaphylaxis, and sadly that number is growing.
Who is at risk?
People with mild allergic reactions in the past are at high risk of severe allergic reaction. And if you have had a severe allergic reaction, you are at higher risk of anaphylaxis.
After the initial anaphylactic shock, there is a possibility of the second attack. This is called a biphasic reaction and it can occur 12 hours after the first reaction. That’s why it is so important to call your local Emergency hotline (000, 911, 112, etc) as soon as you suffer from an attack.
And more importantly, this is why it’s so important you carry an epinephrine auto-injector.
What Causes Anaphylaxis?
Anaphylaxis occurs after being exposed to an allergen ( a trigger, as we mentioned earlier). Major food allergy triggers are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, and egg. However, any food can actually trigger an allergic reaction.
Insect stings from bees, yellow jackets, wasps, hornets and other insects have been known to trigger severe allergy as well. Even ants can cause a reaction in some people!
Or triggers could include medications, such as penicillin; latex and other natural rubber products, and so on. If you have any concerns about allergies, it’s best to have an allergy test performed ASAP. Don’t take the risk.
We’ve already mentioned a couple of uncommon triggers of anaphylaxis, but a surprising trigger is actually exercising. That’s right – something that is supposed to be very good for us can also cause a reaction. Exercise anaphylaxis has similar symptoms to other common allergies like chest pain, wheezing, shortness of breath and is a result of strenuous physical activity.
Another rare trigger is seminal fluids. There are actually reported cases of people being allergic to seminal fluids – most of whome are women who have atopic dermatitis or allergy-based asthma. The reaction generally happens during or after intercourse; anaphylactic symptoms may be present immediately after exposure to the fluids.
Menstruation is another rare trigger. Usually associated with medication or specific foods eaten during the menstrual cycle, it is also known as catamenial anaphylaxis.
There are some common symptoms of anaphylaxis to look out for, keeping in mind it varies from person to person.
1) Skin – Hives, Swelling, Itchy red rash, Eczema Flare
2) Cardiovascular – Drop in blood pressure, Fainting, Shock
3) Respiratory – Itchy watery eyes, Runny nose, Stuffy nose, Sneezing, Coughing, Itching of lips, tongue, and throat, Change in voice, Difficulty swallowing, Tightness of chest, Wheezing, Shortness of breath, Repetitive throat clearing
4) Gastrointestinal – Cramps, Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea
Note: this information is not intended to replace any medical advice or doctor’s consultation.
Treatment and Medication
The best-known treatment or medication for anaphylaxis is epinephrine. This usually comes in an auto-injector. Epinephrine is the adrenaline that is injected into the muscle. Familiar brands of auto-injectors are EpiPen and Auvi-Q.
Remember to always call your EMERGENCY HOTLINE immediately after using your EAI so you receive the correct medical assistance.
Knowing what you can about anaphylaxis and allergies could save a life. Be wary of the symptoms of anaphylaxis and always read labels or instruction leaflets. And always carry your EpiPen.