Recognizing Anaphylactic Shock

Anaphylactic shock is a life-threatening allergic reaction that begins with our immune system. It occurs when our bodies release an antibody called Immunoglobulin E in an attempt to fight it off what it recognizes as a potentially dangerous allergen. This antibody triggers specific reactions in the body that translate to the common symptoms of anaphylactic symptoms. Mayo Clinic lists the symptoms as:

  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing or wheezing (due to a swollen tongue or throat)
  • Facial swelling
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Weak and rapid pulse
  • Sensation of a lump in your throat
  • Shock

What causes anaphylactic shock?

Knowing what can trigger anaphylaxis is extremely important for you and everyone around you. These include:

  • Dairy (milk, cheese, eggs, etc.)
  • Nuts (including tree nuts)
  • Shellfish (lobster, crab, shrimp, etc.)
  • Seeds (sesame, etc.)
  • Stings (bee, wasp, etc.)
  • Medications (penicillin, etc.)

It is also important to mention that, according to Webmd, “exercise can trigger anaphylaxis if the activity occurs after eating allergy-provoking food” and “pollens and other inhaled allergens (allergy-causing substances) rarely cause anaphylaxis.”

How Do I Treat It?

If you or someone you know is experiencing anaphylactic shock, seek medical help immediately. Anyone who knows they have a serious allergy, should always carry epinephrine, usually in the form of an EpiPen. Epinephrine is adrenaline that, when injected through the outer thigh and into the muscle, can reverse anaphylaxis and keep the heart beating. Once the medication is administered, immediate medical care is still necessary.

Doctors are best informed on how to treat such maladies, and if you have had a reaction, even a milder one, it is important to discuss it with them. After that, it’s best to just avoid your allergens altogether if possible.

Because it is possible to develop a life-threatening allergy at any time in your life, it is imperative to understand what to do in a case of anaphylactic shock. Remember, though, that an allergy isn’t the end of the world as long as you educate yourself on the symptoms and take the correct precautionary steps in order keep safe.

For more information on all things sinus and allergy, visit the CT Sinus Center website and take a look at our blog.

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