Also known as anaphylactic shock, anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that should be treated as a medical emergency and may be life-threatening in some cases. It can occur within minutes of exposure to an allergen and causes serious symptoms as a reaction to the chemical released by the immune system.
Symptoms of anaphylaxis can vary from patient to patient, but may include:
- Tightness in the throat
- Difficulty breathing
- Itching and hives
- Irregular heart beat
- Heart failure
These symptoms can resemble other serious medical conditions and should be properly diagnosed so that the patient can receive proper treatment. Diagnosis of anaphylaxis involves a thorough evaluation of your symptoms and questions to determine the cause of your allergic reaction. Your doctor may also perform tests to rule out the possibility of other conditions.
Treatment of anaphylaxis usually involves an injection of epinephrine, which relieves the serious symptoms of the reaction. Many patients with allergies to certain substances carry an epinephrine injection kit with them at all times in the case of an emergency, which can be administered by the patient or someone with them when the reaction occurs. However, patients experiencing anaphylaxis should still be treated immediately even if symptoms are under control.