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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Anaphylaxis--Recognize the Symptoms and Seek Help Immediately!

Summer is coming and so is the risk of anaphylaxis. Although many cases of anaphylaxis are caused by an allergic reaction to a bee sting, it can also occur as a result of an allergic reaction to food, such as peanuts or shellfish.

Anaphylaxis is a severe, potentially life-threatening allergic reaction that appears within minutes after eating food or being stung by a bee or wasp or other venom producing insect. If these symptoms occur, you should go to the emergency room immediately as anaphylaxis can lead to unconsciousness and death:

  • Skin rash
  • Rapid and weak pulse
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hives, itching, pale or flushed skin

Anaphylaxis occurs when the body's immune system overreacts to certain medications, like penicillin, nuts and shellfish, milk and eggs, and stings from insects including bees, yellow jackets, wasps, hornets and fire ants. When the immune system overreacts to allergens, it releases a large amount of chemicals that cause the body to go into shock or anaphylaxis.

Once you have had an anaphylaxis attack, you are much more likely to have another one, and it is generally more severe than the first attack. A severe attack can stop breathing or stop your heartbeat and requiring immediate cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Patients who have been diagnosed or had an episode of anaphylaxis should always carry with them an epinephrine autoinjector (such as an EpiPen). Epinephrine works by relaxing the muscles in the airways and tightening the blood vessels. Patients need to receive a shot immediately but still transported to the emergency room in case the symptoms return.

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