Anaphylaxis is a serious, rare, generalized allergic reaction to an allergen. Normally your immune system helps protect you from viruses and bacteria. An allergic reaction occurs when the body’s immune system responds to and attacks a harmless substance or allergen. Some common allergens include certain foods, medications, pollen, pet dander, perfumes, insect venom, and chemicals. Unlike a mild to moderate allergic reaction, anaphylaxis may be life threatening. Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include pale, clammy skin, weak and rapid pulse, trouble breathing, confusion and lack of consciousness. Without medical treatment, a coma and life threatening complications may occur.
Anaphylaxis is rare but usually happens when a person becomes very sensitive to a specific allergen. Risk factors of anaphylaxis include a previous experience with anaphylaxis, having allergies, and family history of anaphylaxis. In order to isolate the allergen causing the reaction, a doctor or specialist may perform special skin or blood tests. Your doctor may also ask you questions about what you ate or were doing just before the attack. In addition, your doctor will want to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms. Treatments include medications such as epinephrine, oxygen, IV antihistamines, and beta-agonists such as albuterol. More aggressive measures may be necessary if an individual stops breathing or their heart stops. Individuals at risk for anaphylaxis may carry an epinephrine autoinjector to use in an emergency. Anaphylaxis requires immediate medical attention. If you have been diagnosed as having an anaphylactic reaction, talk with your doctor about the best way to prevent the reaction and the most current treatment options.