About anaphylaxis

What is anaphylaxis?

When a person suffers from allergies, certain allergens can trigger a reaction and cause swelling in the body. While most of the time, these conditions are not life-threatening, there are instances when the throat swells up so much that it restricts the airflow to the lungs while chemicals responsible for attacking the allergen flood the system resulting in blood pressure drop and waker heart rate. This condition or allergic reaction is known as Anaphylaxis and the person undergoes an anaphylactic shock. People who suffer from severe allergies, especially allergies related to food and animal hair, are at greater risk of suffering from anaphylaxis. When the person suffers from an anaphylactic shock, administration of an epinephrine shot is necessary to prevent the person from collapsing.

What are the symptoms for anaphylaxis?

When a person suffering from anaphylaxis gets an attack, also known as anaphylactic shock, they are in immediate need of medical attention. The administration of the injector is crucial to saving the person’s life. Anaphylaxis is an allergic reaction. It is the most severe form of symptom that links to allergies. In order to understand the right time to administer the epinephrine shot, it is essential to understand the symptoms associated with anaphylaxis. These symptoms are:

·        Difficulty in breathing due to the restriction of the air passages as throat swells up

·        Wheezing and coughing

·        Blood pressure falling suddenly

·        Feeling dizzy and nauseous

·        Feeling dizzy and nauseous

·        Rashes and Hives breaking out on the skin

·        Feeling confused

·        Fainitng or losing consciousness

What are the causes for anaphylaxis?

Being an allergic reaction, anaphylaxis can be triggered when an allergen enters the body. This sets the immune system to consider the foreign particle as harmful and it leads to the production of antibodies that bind to mast cells and triggers all signs related to having an active immune system like fever and cold. While these allergic reactions are often mild, the more severe form leads to anaphylaxis. Typically, people with food allergies and pet allergies are at a greater risk of suffering from anaphylaxis. There are certain medications like antibiotics or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs that can cause anaphylaxis. Some of the known allergens are:

·        Milk

·        Eggs

·        Nuts, especially peanuts

·        Shellfishes like lobsters and shrimps

·        Tree nuts like hazel or walnut

·        Wheat or gluten

What are the treatments for anaphylaxis?

A person undergoing anaphylactic shock requires immediate treatment. This is done by injecting the person with epinephrine and then calling an ambulance for the person to get hospitalized. Since it is an allergic reaction, anaphylaxis does not have a fixed treatment as the symptoms and severity vary from person to person. If the person is given drugs to treat their inflammation, it can be counter-productive if the person is seen to have an adverse reaction to that specific medication. Hence, unless the exact cause of the allergic reaction is determined, the treatment for anaphylaxis will rely on firstly diagnosing the person to find out the allergen and then treating them with medications. Lifestyle changes and opting for face masks are also advised.

What are the risk factors for anaphylaxis?

When the swelling intensifies, it gives rise to anaphylaxis. Since the symptoms associated with the condition are severe, the risk factors also include death if treatment is not immediately started. As the swelling of the tongue and throat blocks air passage, the person might feel light-headed as the oxygen supply to the brain gets restricted. The overflow of the enzymes and proteins associated with fighting immunity can also affect the heart, causing the organ to slow down and the blood pressure to drop rapidly. When the oxygen supply to the brain gets disrupted for a long time, it can lead to brain damage. Kidneys can also get damaged due to the drop in blood pressure. Ultimately, the person might lose consciousness resulting in death.

Is there a cure/medications for anaphylaxis?

As of now, there is no permanent cure for anaphylaxis. Since this is caused by allergens and is a severe form of an allergic reaction, the best way to prevent an attack is to keep those allergens at bay. Living life with anaphylaxis can be a bit difficult, especially if the triggering allergen is something as common as animal dander like dog or cat hair. The preventive measure also includes carrying epinephrine shot injectors in case of emergencies. Some commonly used medications are antihistamines and cortisone. These are often used intravenously to quickly control the inflammation of the throat. In order to alleviate breathing difficulty, a beta-agonist like albuterol is used.

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